Aims: Recent hypertension guidelines recommend that also in high cardiovascular (CV) risk, hypertensive patients blood pressure (BP) is lowered to <140/90 mmHg as no evidence is available supporting the lower target of <130/80 mmHg recommended in previous guidelines. Whether this represents the optimal treatment strategy is debated, however.
Methods and results: The high CV risk hypertensive patients of the Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term use Evaluation (VALUE) trial were divided into subgroups according to (i) the percentage of on-treatment visits in which BP was reduced to <140/90 or <130/80 mmHg or (ii) the mean systolic or diastolic BP (SBP/DBP) values achieved during the entire treatment period or up to the occurrence of an event. A progressive increase from <25 to ≥75% of the visits in which BP was <140/90 mmHg was accompanied by a significant, progressive marked decrease in the covariate adjusted risk of CV morbidity and mortality, cause specific CV events (myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke), and all-cause mortality. Except for a persistent progressive decrease in stroke, no significant trend to a risk decrease occurred for a similar progressive increment of the proportion of visits with BP <130/80 mmHg. Increasing the proportion of visits with a BP <140/90 mmHg (but not <130/80 mmHg) was accompanied by a decreased risk of events also when differences in baseline risk were adjusted using a propensity score. Finally, compared with patients remaining at a mean on-treatment SBP ≥140 or DBP ≥90 mmHg, the risk of all events was markedly reduced when on-treatment mean SBP was lowered to a mean SBP of 130-139 mmHg or a mean DBP of 80-89 mmHg, whereas at on-treatment mean SBP <130 mmHg or DBP <80 mmHg, an additional risk reduction was found for stroke but for any other type of event, the risk of which remained similar or only slightly greater than that seen at the higher BP target.
Conclusions: In the high CV risk, hypertensives of the VALUE trial reducing BP consistently to <140/90 mmHg had marked beneficial effects both when data were calculated as proportion of visits at BP target or as on-treatment mean BP. Reducing BP to <130/80 mmHg led only to some possible further benefit on stroke, whereas the risk of other outcomes remained substantially similar to or slightly greater than that seen at the higher target. Thus, aggressive BP reductions when CV risk is high may not offer substantial advantages, except perhaps in patients or conditions in which stroke risk is particularly common.
Keywords: Antihypertensive treatment; Blood pressure; Cardiovascular risk; Coronary disease; Heart failure; Stroke.
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