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May 22, 1996

The Progression From Hypertension to Congestive Heart Failure

Author Affiliations

From the Framingham (Mass) Heart Study (Drs Levy, Larson, and Vasan); the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md (Dr Levy); the Section of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Boston (Mass) University School of Medicine (Drs Levy, Larson, and Kannel); and the Divisions of Cardiology (Drs Levy and Ho) and Clinical Epidemiology (Dr Levy), Beth Israel Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1996;275(20):1557-1562. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530440037034

Objective.  —To study the relative and population-attributable risks of hypertension for the development of congestive heart failure (CHF), to assess the time course of progression from hypertension to CHF, and to identify risk factors that contribute to the development of overt heart failure in hypertensive subjects.

Design.  —Inception cohort study.

Setting.  —General community.

Participants.  —Original Framingham Heart Study and Framingham Offspring Study participants aged 40 to 89 years and free of CHF. To reflect more contemporary experience, the starting point of this study was January 1, 1970.

Exposure Measures.  —Hypertension (blood pressure of at least 140 mm Hg systolic or 90 mm Hg diastolic or current use of medications for treatment of high blood pressure) and other potential CHF risk factors were assessed at periodic clinic examinations.

Outcome Measure.  —The development of CHF.

Results.  —A total of 5143 eligible subjects contributed 72422 person-years of observation. During up to 20.1 years of follow-up (mean, 14.1 years), there were 392 new cases of heart failure; in 91% (357/392), hypertension antedated the development of heart failure. Adjusting for age and heart failure risk factors in proportional hazards regression models, the hazard for developing heart failure in hypertensive compared with normotensive subjects was about 2-fold in men and 3-fold in women. Multivariable analyses revealed that hypertension had a high population-attributable risk for CHF, accounting for 39% of cases in men and 59% in women. Among hypertensive subjects, myocardial infarction, diabetes, left ventricular hypertrophy, and valvular heart disease were predictive of increased risk for CHF in both sexes. Survival following the onset of hypertensive CHF was bleak; only 24% of men and 31% of women survived 5 years.

Conclusions.  —Hypertension was the most common risk factor for CHF, and it contributed a large proportion of heart failure cases in this population-based sample. Preventive strategies directed toward earlier and more aggressive blood pressure control are likely to offer the greatest promise for reducing the incidence of CHF and its associated mortality.(JAMA. 1996;275:1557-1562)