BACKGROUND: The optimal blood pressure (BP) target has been a matter of debate. The recent SPRINT trial showed significant benefits of a BP target of <120 mm Hg albeit with an increase in serious adverse effects related to low BP.
METHODS: PUBMED, EMBASE, and CENTRAL were searched for randomized trials comparing treating to different BP targets. Trial arms were grouped into five systolic BP target categories: 1) <160 mm Hg; 2) <150 mm Hg; 3) <140 mm Hg; 4) <130 mm Hg and 5) <120 mm Hg. Efficacy outcomes of stroke, myocardial infarction, death, cardiovascular death, heart failure and safety outcomes of serious adverse effects were evaluated using a network meta-analysis.
RESULTS: Seventeen trials that enrolled 55,163 patients with 204,103 patient-years of follow-up were included. There was a significant decrease in stroke (RR=0.54; 95% CI 0.29-1.00) and myocardial infarction (RR=0.68; 95% CI 0.47-1.00) with systolic BP <120 mm Hg (vs. <160 mm Hg). Sensitivity analysis using achieved systolic BP showed a 72%, 97% and 227% increase in stroke with systolic BP of <140 mm Hg, <150 mm Hg and <160 mm respectively, when compared with systolic BP <120 mm Hg. There was no difference in death, cardiovascular death or heart failure when comparing any of the BP targets. However, the point estimate favored lower BP targets (<120 mm Hg, <130 mm Hg) when compared with higher BP targets (<140 mm Hg or <150 mm Hg).
BP targets of <120 mm Hg and <130 mm Hg ranked #1 and #2 respectively, as the most efficacious target. There was a significant increase in serious adverse effects with systolic BP <120 mm Hg vs. <150 mm Hg (RR=1.83; 95% CI 1.05-3.20) or vs. <140 mm Hg (RR=2.12; 95% CI 1.46-3.08).
BP targets of <140 mm Hg and <150 mm Hg ranked #1 and #2 respectively, as the safest target for the outcome of serious adverse effects. Cluster plots for combined efficacy and safety showed that a systolic BP target of <130 mm Hg had optimal balance between efficacy and safety.
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with hypertension, a systolic BP target of <130 mm Hg achieved optimal balance between efficacy and safety.