This is the first update of the review published in 2017. Hypertension is a prominent preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality. People with hypertension and established cardiovascular disease are at particularly high risk, so reducing blood pressure to below standard targets may be beneficial. This strategy could reduce cardiovascular mortality and morbidity but could also increase adverse events. The optimal blood pressure target in people with hypertension and established cardiovascular disease remains unknown.
To determine if 'lower' blood pressure targets (≤ 135/85 mmHg) are associated with reduction in mortality and morbidity as compared with 'standard' blood pressure targets (≤ 140 to 160/90 to 100 mmHg) in the treatment of people with hypertension and a history of cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, angina, stroke, peripheral vascular occlusive disease).
For this updated review, the Cochrane Hypertension Information Specialist searched the following databases for randomized controlled trials up to February 2018: Cochrane Hypertension Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE (from 1946), Embase (from 1974), and Latin American Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS) (from 1982), along with the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and ClinicalTrials.gov. We also contacted authors of relevant papers regarding further published and unpublished work. We applied no language restrictions.
We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that included more than 50 participants per group and provided at least six months' follow-up. Trial reports had to present data for at least one primary outcome (total mortality, serious adverse events, total cardiovascular events, cardiovascular mortality). Eligible interventions involved lower targets for systolic/diastolic blood pressure (≤ 135/85 mmHg) compared with standard targets for blood pressure (≤ 140 to 160/90 to 100 mmHg).Participants were adults with documented hypertension and adults receiving treatment for hypertension with a cardiovascular history for myocardial infarction, stroke, chronic peripheral vascular occlusive disease, or angina pectoris.
Two review authors independently assessed search results and extracted data using standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.
We included six RCTs that involved a total of 9484 participants. Mean follow-up was 3.7 years (range 1.0 to 4.7 years). All RCTs provided individual participant data.We found no change in total mortality (risk ratio (RR) 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.91 to 1.23) or cardiovascular mortality (RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.29; moderate-quality evidence). Similarly, we found no differences in serious adverse events (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.08; low-quality evidence) or total cardiovascular events (including myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden death, hospitalization, or death from congestive heart failure) (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.00; low-quality evidence). Studies reported more participant withdrawals due to adverse effects in the lower target arm (RR 8.16, 95% CI 2.06 to 32.28; very low-quality evidence). Blood pressures were lower in the lower target group by 8.9/4.5 mmHg. More drugs were needed in the lower target group, but blood pressure targets were achieved more frequently in the standard target group.
We found no evidence of a difference in total mortality, serious adverse events, or total cardiovascular events between people with hypertension and cardiovascular disease treated to a lower or to a standard blood pressure target. This suggests that no net health benefit is derived from a lower systolic blood pressure target. We found very limited evidence on adverse events, which led to high uncertainty. At present, evidence is insufficient to justify lower blood pressure targets (≤ 135/85 mmHg) in people with hypertension and established cardiovascular disease. More trials are needed to examine this topic.