Antihypertensive drug effects on long-term blood pressure: an individual-level data meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials

Heart. 2022 Jul 27;108(16):1281-1289. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2021-320171.


Objective: Evidence from randomised trials of pharmacological treatments on long-term blood pressure (BP) reduction is limited. We investigated the antihypertensive drug effects on BP over time and across different participant characteristics.

Methods: We conducted an individual patient-level data meta-analysis of 52 large-scale randomised clinical trials in the Blood Pressure Lowering Treatment Trialists' Collaboration using mixed models to examine treatment effects on BP over 4 years of mean follow-up.

Results: There were 363 684 participants (42% women), with baseline mean age=65 years and mean systolic/diastolic BP=152/87 mm Hg, and among whom 19% were current smokers, 49% had cardiovascular disease, 28% had diabetes and 69% were taking antihypertensive treatment at baseline. Drugs were effective in lowering BP showing maximal effect after 12 months and gradually attenuating towards later years. Based on measures taken ≥12 months postrandomisation, mean systolic/diastolic BP difference (95% CI) between more and less intense BP-lowering treatment was -11.1 (-11.3 to -10.8)/-5.6 (-5.7 to -5.4) mm Hg; between active treatment and placebo was -5.1 (-5.3 to -5.0)/-2.3 (-2.4 to -2.2) mm Hg; and between active and control arms for drug comparison trials was -1.4 (-1.5 to -1.3)/-0.6 (-0.7 to -0.6) mm Hg. BP reductions were observed across different baseline BP values and ages, and by sex, history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and prior antihypertensive treatment use.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that BP-lowering pharmacotherapy is effective in lowering BP, up to 4 years on average, in people with different characteristics. Appropriate treatment strategies are needed to sustain substantive long-term BP reductions.

Keywords: clinical; hypertension; meta-analysis; pharmacology.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antihypertensive Agents