Research Article

Coronary flow reserve and the J curve relation between diastolic blood pressure and myocardial infarction.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 12 November 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:1227
  1. J. M. Cruickshank
  1. ICI Pharmaceuticals, Macclesfield, Cheshire.


    The results of several large studies of hypertension and follow up studies on insured people have indicated that the lower the blood pressure the better for longevity. These studies excluded subjects with overt ischaemia. More recently long term studies of hypertension that included patients with more severe forms of hypertension and did not exclude those with overt ischaemia have shown a J shaped relation between diastolic blood pressure during treatment and myocardial infarction; the lowest point (the J point) was at a diastolic blood pressure (phase V) between 85 and 90 mm Hg. The J curve seems to be independent of treatment, pulse pressure, and the degree of fall in diastolic blood pressure and is unlikely to be caused by poor left ventricular function. The most probable explanation is that subjects who have severe stenosis of the coronary artery as well as hypertension have a poor coronary flow reserve, which makes the myocardium vulnerable to coronary perfusion pressures that are tolerated by patients without ischaemia, particularly at high heart rates. An optimal diastolic blood pressure (phase V) for such patients is about 85 mm Hg, though particular caution is appropriate when treating very old patients (84 and over) and patients aged 60-79 who have isolated systolic hypertension.