BACKGROUND: Many national and international guidelines recommend that the initiation of blood pressure (BP)-lowering drug treatment for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) should no longer be based on BP level alone, but on absolute cardiovascular risk. While BP-lowering drug treatment is beneficial in high-risk individuals at any level of elevated BP, clinicians are concerned about legacy effects on patients with low-to-moderate risk and mildly elevated BP who remain "untreated".
OBJECTIVE: We aim to investigate the legacy effect of delayed BP-lowering pharmacotherapy in middle-aged individuals (45-65 years) with mildly elevated BP (systolic BP 140-159 mmHg and/or diastolic BP 90-99 mmHg) stratified by absolute risk for primary prevention of CVD, but particularly in the low-risk (<10% five-year absolute risk) group.
METHODS: Randomized trials of BP-lowering therapy versus placebo or pretreated subjects in active comparator studies with posttrial follow-up will be identified using a 2-step process. First, randomized trials of BP-lowering therapy will be identified by (1) retrieving the references of trials included in published systematic reviews of BP-lowering therapy, (2) retrieving studies published by the Blood Pressure Lowering Treatment Trialists' Collaboration (BPLTTC), and (3) checking studies referenced in the 1993 World Health Organization/International Society of Hypertension meeting memorandum on BP management. Posttrial follow-up studies will then be identified by forward citation searching the randomized trials identified in step 1 through Web of Science. The search will include randomized controlled trials with at least 1-year in-trial period and a posttrial follow-up phase. Age is the major determinant of absolute cardiovascular risk, so the participants in our review will be restricted to middle-aged adults who are more likely to have a lower cardiovascular risk profile. The primary outcome will be all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes will include cardiovascular mortality, fatal stroke, fatal myocardial infarction, and death due to heart failure.
RESULTS: The searches for existing systematic reviews and BPLTTC studies were piloted and modified. The study is expected to be completed before June 2018.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study will contribute to the body of knowledge concerning the beneficial, neutral, or harmful effects of delayed BP-lowering drug treatment on the primary prevention of CVD in patients with mildly elevated BP and low-to-moderate CVD risk.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews: CRD42017058414; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.asp?ID=CRD42017058414 (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6t6sa8O2Q).