The evidence for optimal blood pressure (BP) targets in Asian patients with hypertension is insufficient and controversial. Western guidelines should be used with caution in clinical practice until there is supporting evidence.
Systematically synthesize the evidence on the efficacy of achieving the strict 2018 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guideline BP targets versus standard BP targets in Asian patients.
We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of controlled trials, and additional databases to retrieve relevant Asian studies.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies that reported clinical endpoints, had a minimal follow-up period of one year and included Asian patients older than 18 years with essential hypertension.
Two investigators independently conducted the study selection with any discrepancies resolved between team members.
We selected 15 studies for analysis (4 RCTs, 7 observational studies, and 4 post-hoc analyses). The evidence for the strict BP targets in elderly patients was insufficient. In middle-aged patients, the meta-analysis of observational studies revealed a significant reduction in major adverse cardiac events (MACCE) (hazard ratio (HR)=0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI: 0.74-0.81). For studies that reported results for patients of any age, the tight systolic BP-lowering therapy was associated with a decrease in MACCE (HR=0.80; 95% CI: 0.69-0.92), stroke (HR=0.82; 95% CI: 0.71-0.94), but not in cardiac events (HR=0.91; 95% CI: 0.72-1.14, =.41), all-cause (HR=0.80; 95% CI: 0.57-1.13) and cardiovascular mortality (HR=0.73; 95% CI: 0.40-1.33, =.30). Similar findings were obtained for the strict diastolic BP targets.
Our findings provide evidence for Asian patients that support the efficacy of the strict antihypertensive treatment with BP targets proposed by the 2018 ESC hypertension guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular events. However, these data were obtained from only observational studies and the results were not confirmed by RCTs, probably due to insufficient power. Therefore, further high-quality RCTs are crucial.
Use of aggregated data, the subgroup and meta-regression analyses are inconclusive, limited to English language, unable to estimate summary measures for some outcomes, publication bias difficult to assess, and unclear that results could be extrapolated.
The protocol registered in PROSPERO (CRD42018115570).