Background: Risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was a novel consideration for antihypertensive medication initiation in the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Blood Pressure (BP) guideline. Whether biomarkers of chronic myocardial injury (high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T ≥6 ng/L] and stress (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide [NT-proBNP] ≥100 pg/mL) can inform cardiovascular (CV) risk stratification and treatment decisions among adults with elevated BP and hypertension is unclear.
Methods: Participant-level data from 3 cohort studies (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, Dallas Heart Study, and Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) were pooled, excluding individuals with prevalent CV disease and those taking antihypertensive medication at baseline. Participants were analyzed according to BP treatment group from the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association BP guideline and those with high BP (120 to 159/<100 mm Hg) were further stratified by biomarker status. Cumulative incidence rates for CV event (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or heart failure), and the corresponding 10-year number needed to treat to prevent 1 event with intensive BP lowering (to target systolic BP <120 mm Hg), were estimated for BP and biomarker-based subgroups.
Results: The study included 12 987 participants (mean age, 55 years; 55% women; 21.5% with elevated high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T; 17.7% with elevated NT-proBNP) with 825 incident CV events over 10-year follow-up. Participants with elevated BP or hypertension not recommended for antihypertensive medication with versus without either elevated high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T or NT-proBNP had a 10-year CV incidence rate of 11.0% and 4.6%, with a 10-year number needed to treat to prevent 1 event for intensive BP lowering of 36 and 85, respectively. Among participants with stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension recommended for antihypertensive medication with BP <160/100 mm Hg, those with versus without an elevated biomarker had a 10-year CV incidence rate of 15.1% and 7.9%, with a 10-year number needed to treat to prevent 1 event of 26 and 49, respectively.
Conclusions: Elevations in high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T or NT-proBNP identify individuals with elevated BP or hypertension not currently recommended for antihypertensive medication who are at high risk for CV events. The presence of nonelevated biomarkers, even in the setting of stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension, was associated with lower risk. Incorporation of biomarkers into risk assessment algorithms may lead to more appropriate matching of intensive BP control with patient risk.
Keywords: biomarkers; heart failure; hypertension; myocardial infarction; risk.