Role of Blood Pressure Management in Stroke Prevention: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of 93 Randomized Controlled Trials

J Stroke. 2021 Jan;23(1):1-11. doi: 10.5853/jos.2020.02698. Epub 2021 Jan 31.


Background and purpose: The present study aimed to compare the efficacy and tolerability of different blood pressure (BP)-lowering strategies.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials that compared various antihypertensive treatments and stroke outcomes were included. Eligible trials were categorized into three scenarios: single or combination antihypertensive agents against placebos; single or combination agents against other agents; and different BP-lowering targets. The primary efficacy outcome was the risk reduction pertaining to strokes. The tolerability outcome was the withdrawal of drugs, owing to drug-related side effects (PROSPERO registration number CRD42018118454 [20/12/2018]).

Results: The present study included 93 trials (average follow-up duration, 3.3 years). In the pairwise analysis, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEis) and beta-blockers (BBs) were inferior to calcium channel blockers (CCBs) (odds ratio [OR], 1.123; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.008 to 1.252) (OR, 1.261; 95% CI, 1.116 to 1.425) for stroke prevention, BB was inferior to angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) (OR, 1.361; 95% CI, 1.142 to 1.622), and diuretics were superior to ACEi (OR, 0.871; 95% CI, 0.771 to 0.984). The combination of ACEi+CCB was superior to ACEi+diuretic (OR, 0.892; 95% CI, 0.823 to 0.966). The network meta-analysis confirmed that diuretics were superior to BB (OR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.58), ACEi+diuretic (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.08), BB+CCB (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.05 to 3.79), and renin inhibitors (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.25 to 2.75) for stroke prevention. Regarding the tolerability profile, the pairwise analysis revealed that ACEi was inferior to CCB and less tolerable, compared to the other treatments.

Conclusions: Monotherapy using diuretics, CCB, or ARB, and their combinations could be employed as first-line treatments for stroke prevention in terms of efficacy and tolerability.

Keywords: Antihypertensive agents; Meta-analysis; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Review