An average of nearly seven blood pressure measurements per patient was taken during the study period, which helped to estimate the patient’s actual blood pressure better. The ability to collect data over a long period of time, combined with a large number of patients, makes this the first study substantial enough to investigate the link between blood pressure and aortic valve disease and how it changes with age and with different blood pressure levels.
The study shows that serious valvular heart diseases that are common in old age are not simply due to aging. Long-term exposure to higher blood pressure is a strong and potentially modifiable risk factor for aortic stenosis and regurgitation at every level of typical blood pressure, not only in those who are classified as having hypertension.
Blood pressure should be considered as a major risk factor for aortic valve disease, much in the same way as we think of elevated blood pressure as a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. It suggests that the associations are causal, but this requires further confirmation.