Differential impact of systolic and diastolic blood pressure level on JNC-VI staging

Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, Jane C. Evans, Martin G. Larson, Christopher J. O'Donnell, Daniel Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


The sixth Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure classifies blood pressure into stages on the basis of both systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure levels. When a disparity exists between SBP and DBP stages, patients are classified into the higher stage ('up-staged'). We evaluated the effect of disparate levels of SBP and DBP on blood pressure staging and eligibility for therapy. We examined 4962 Framingham Heart Study subjects between 1990 and 1995 and determined blood pressure stages on the basis of SBP alone, DBP alone, or both. After the exclusion of subjects on antihypertensive therapy (n= 1306), 3656 subjects (mean age 58±13 years; 55% women) were eligible. In this sample, 64.6% of subjects had congruent stages of SBP and DBP, 31.6% were up-staged on the basis of SBP, and 3.8% on the basis of DBP; thus, SBP alone correctly classified JNC-VI stage in ≃96% (64.6%+31.6%) of the subjects. Among subjects >60 years of age, SBP alone correctly classified 99% of subjects; in those ≤60 years old, SBP alone correctly classified 95%. Of 1488 subjects with high-normal blood pressure or hypertension, who were potentially eligible for drug therapy, 13.0% had congruent elevations of SBP and DBP, 77.7% were up-staged on the basis of SBP, and 9.3% were up-staged on the basis of DBP; SBP alone correctly classified 91%, whereas DBP alone correctly classified only 22%. SBP elevation out of proportion to DBP is common in middle-aged and older persons. SBP appears to play a greater role in the determination of JNC-VI blood pressure stage and eligibility for therapy. Given these results, combined with evidence from hypertension treatment trials, future guidelines might consider a greater role for SBP than for DBP in determining the presence of hypertension, risk of cardiovascular events, eligibility for therapy, and benefits of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Detection and control
  • Epidemiology
  • Guidelines
  • Hypertension
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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