Importance: Lowering blood pressure (BP) is widely used to reduce vascular risk in individuals with diabetes.
Objective: To determine the associations between BP-lowering treatment and vascular disease in type 2 diabetes.
Data sources and study selection: We searched MEDLINE for large-scale randomized controlled trials of BP-lowering treatment including patients with diabetes, published between January 1966 and October 2014.
Data extraction and synthesis: Two reviewers independently extracted study characteristics and vascular outcome data. Estimates were stratified by baseline BP and achieved BP, and pooled using fixed-effects meta-analysis.
Main outcomes and measures: All-cause mortality, cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease events, stroke, heart failure, retinopathy, new or worsening albuminuria, and renal failure.
Results: Forty trials judged to be of low risk of bias (100,354 participants) were included. Each 10-mm Hg lower systolic BP was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality (relative risk [RR], 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78-0.96); absolute risk reduction (ARR) in events per 1000 patient-years (3.16; 95% CI, 0.90-5.22), cardiovascular events (RR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.83-0.95]; ARR, 3.90 [95% CI, 1.57-6.06]), coronary heart disease (RR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.80-0.98]; ARR, 1.81 [95% CI, 0.35-3.11]), stroke (RR, 0.73 [95% CI, 0.64-0.83]; ARR, 4.06 [95% CI, 2.53-5.40]), albuminuria (RR, 0.83 [95% CI, 0.79-0.87]; ARR, 9.33 [95% CI, 7.13-11.37]), and retinopathy (RR, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.76-0.99]; ARR, 2.23 [95% CI, 0.15-4.04]). When trials were stratified by mean baseline systolic BP at greater than or less than 140 mm Hg, RRs for outcomes other than stroke, retinopathy, and renal failure were lower in studies with greater baseline systolic BP (P interaction <0.1). The associations between BP-lowering treatments and outcomes were not significantly different, irrespective of drug class, except for stroke and heart failure. Estimates were similar when all trials, regardless of risk of bias, were included.
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with type 2 diabetes, BP lowering was associated with improved mortality and other clinical outcomes with lower RRs observed among those with baseline BP of 140 mm Hg and greater. These findings support the use of medications for BP lowering in these patients.