Elevated blood pressure and risk of aortic valve disease: a cohort analysis of 5.4 million UK adults

13 September 2018

European Heart Journal

European Heart Journal, ehy486, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy486

View Journal Article / Working Paper

New research has found that long-term exposure to high blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of aortic valve disease, with significant implications for clinical practice guidelines and health management.

The findings, published in the European Heart Journal, are from a study of 5.4 million adults in the UK, led by The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford. The study was funded by the Oxford Martin School and the National Institute for Health Research through the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

They reveal that each 20 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure is linked to a 41% greater risk of developing aortic stenosis, a condition in which the valve that controls how blood is pumped from the heart to the main artery doesn’t open fully. People with a systolic blood pressure of 161 mmHg or more were twice as likely to be diagnosed with the condition as those with a systolic blood pressure of 120 mmHg or lower.

Higher blood pressure is also linked to a greater risk of aortic regurgitation, when the aortic valve doesn’t close properly and blood leaks back into the heart. Each 20 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure is linked to a 38% greater risk of developing this condition.

Patients with aortic valve disease may suffer symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, fainting and dizziness. The new research provides further evidence of the importance of controlling hypertension, and has significant implications for health guidelines and clinical practice.