Research Validates New Blood Pressure Recommendations for People with Lupus
Research shows that a blood pressure (BP) reading of less than 130/80 mm Hg can be considered normal for people with lupus, despite their increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). Though hypertension was previously defined at a level of 140/90 mm Hg, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association updated the definition in 2018 to 130/80 mm Hg for the general population.
To test how well these more conservative guidelines apply to people with lupus, researchers examined heart health data from more than 1,500 patients from the Toronto Lupus Clinic and compared them across three subcategories:
- People with average BP levels under 130/80 mm Hg (normotensive)
- People with average BP levels of 130-139/80-89 mm Hg (stage 1 hypertension)
- People with average BP levels of 140/90 mm Hg or above (stage 2 hypertension)
Of the lupus patients included in the study, 20.6% fell into the stage 1 hypertension category, and 10.1% were classified as stage 2 hypertensive. The remaining people (69.3%) fell within normotensive range. After an average follow-up period of almost 11 years, 124 atherosclerotic vascular events (AVEs) were observed, such as heart attack, stroke, angina, and congestive heart failure. More than 1 in 10 people with stage 1 hypertension experienced AVEs during the study period, while fewer than 5 in 100 people with normal BP had AVEs.
The study concluded that stage 1 hypertension, as currently defined, was indeed associated with a 2.5-fold increase in the risk of AVEs compared to the normal BP category. This BP level equated to a 73% increased risk for AVEs after adjusting for other heart disease risk factors, like smoking and level of lupus disease activity. These findings support a goal BP level of below 130/80 mm Hg for all people with lupus.
People with lupus have two to three times the risk of developing heart disease complications as the general public, and careful BP control is one important way to minimize risk. Learn about lupus and heart health.