Effect of Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering on the Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

Hypertension. 2020 Jun;75(6):1491-1496. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.14766. Epub 2020 May 4.


It remains uncertain whether intensive control of blood pressure (BP) results in a lower risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with hypertension. Using data from SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), which enrolled participants with hypertension at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, we examined whether intensive BP lowering (target systolic BP [SBP] <120 mm Hg), compared with standard BP lowering (target SBP<140 mm Hg), results in a lower risk of AF. This analysis included 8022 participants (4003 randomized to the intensive arm and 4019 to standard BP arm) who were free of AF at the time of enrollment and with available baseline and follow-up electrocardiographic data. AF was ascertained from standard 12-lead electrocardiograms recorded at biannual study examinations and an exit visit. During up to 5.2 years of follow-up and a total of 28 322 person-years, 206 incident AF cases occurred; 88 in the intensive BP-lowering arm and 118 in the standard BP-lowering arm. Intensive BP lowering was associated with a 26% lower risk of developing new AF (hazard ratio, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.56-0.98]; P=0.037). This effect was consistent among prespecified subgroups of SPRINT participants stratified by age, sex, race, SBP tertiles, prior cardiovascular disease, and prior chronic kidney disease when interactions between treatment effect and these subgroups were assessed using Hommel adjusted P values. In conclusion, intensive treatment to a target of SBP <120 mm Hg in patients with hypertension at high risk of cardiovascular disease has the potential to reduce the risk of AF. Registration- URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT01206062.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; blood pressure; cardiovascular diseases; hypertension; risk.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Antihypertensive Agents* / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / epidemiology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure Determination* / methods
  • Blood Pressure Determination* / standards
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Female
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension* / physiopathology
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Planning*
  • Prognosis


  • Antihypertensive Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01206062