Limited information exists about the consequences of hypertension during adulthood on residual life expectancy with cardiovascular disease. We aimed to analyze the life course of people with high blood pressure levels at age 50 in terms of total life expectancy and life expectancy with and without cardiovascular disease compared with normotensives. We constructed multistate life tables for cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke using data from 3128 participants of the Framingham Heart Study who had their 50th birthday while enrolled in the study. For the life table calculations, we used hazard ratios for 3 transitions (healthy to death, healthy to disease, and disease to death) by categories of blood pressure level and adjusted by age, sex, and confounders. Irrespective of sex, 50-year-old hypertensives compared with normotensives had a shorter life expectancy, a shorter life expectancy free of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke, and a longer life expectancy lived with these diseases. Normotensive men (22% of men) survived 7.2 years (95% confidence interval, 5.6 to 9.0) longer without cardiovascular disease compared with hypertensives and spent 2.1 (0.9 to 3.4) fewer years of life with cardiovascular disease. Similar differences were observed in women. Compared with hypertensives, total life expectancy was 5.1 and 4.9 years longer for normotensive men and women, respectively. Increased blood pressure in adulthood is associated with large reductions in life expectancy and more years lived with cardiovascular disease. This effect is larger than estimated previously and affects both sexes similarly. Our findings underline the tremendous importance of preventing high blood pressure and its consequences in the population.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Franco, O., Peeters, A., Bonneux, L., & de Laet, C. (2005). Blood pressure in adulthood and life expectancy with cardiovascular disease in men and women: life course analysis. Hypertension, 46(2), 280–286. doi:10.1161/01.HYP.0000173433.67426.9b