Incident Cardiovascular Disease Among Adults With Blood Pressure <140/90 mm Hg

Gabriel S Tajeu, John N Booth, Lisandro D Colantonio, Rebecca F Gottesman, George Howard, Daniel T Lackland, Emily C O'Brien, Suzanne Oparil, Joseph Ravenell, Monika M Safford, Samantha R Seals, Daichi Shimbo, Steven Shea, Tanya M Spruill, Rikki M Tanner, Paul Muntner
Circulation 2017 August 29, 136 (9): 798-812

BACKGROUND: Data from before the 2000s indicate that the majority of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events occur among US adults with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP) ≥140/90 mm Hg. Over the past several decades, BP has declined and hypertension control has improved.

METHODS: We estimated the percentage of incident CVD events that occur at SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg in a pooled analysis of 3 contemporary US cohorts: the REGARDS study (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke), the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), and the JHS (Jackson Heart Study) (n=31 856; REGARDS=21 208; MESA=6779; JHS=3869). Baseline study visits were conducted in 2003 to 2007 for REGARDS, 2000 to 2002 for MESA, and 2000 to 2004 for JHS. BP was measured by trained staff using standardized methods. Antihypertensive medication use was self-reported. The primary outcome was incident CVD, defined by the first occurrence of fatal or nonfatal stroke, nonfatal myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, or heart failure. Events were adjudicated in each study.

RESULTS: Over a mean follow-up of 7.7 years, 2584 participants had incident CVD events. Overall, 63.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 54.9-71.1) of events occurred in participants with SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg; 58.4% (95% CI, 47.7-69.2) and 68.1% (95% CI, 60.1-76.0) among those taking and not taking antihypertensive medication, respectively. The majority of events occurred in participants with SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg among those <65 years of age (66.7%; 95% CI, 60.5-73.0) and ≥65 years of age (60.3%; 95% CI, 51.0-69.5), women (61.4%; 95% CI, 49.9-72.9) and men (63.8%; 95% CI, 58.4-69.1), and for whites (68.7%; 95% CI, 66.1-71.3), blacks (59.0%; 95% CI, 49.5-68.6), Hispanics (52.7%; 95% CI, 45.1-60.4), and Chinese-Americans (58.5%; 95% CI, 45.2-71.8). Among participants taking antihypertensive medication with SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg, 76.6% (95% CI, 75.8-77.5) were eligible for statin treatment, but only 33.2% (95% CI, 32.1-34.3) were taking one, and 19.5% (95% CI, 18.5-20.5) met the SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) eligibility criteria and may benefit from a SBP target goal of 120 mm Hg.

CONCLUSIONS: Although higher BP levels are associated with increased CVD risk, in the modern era, the majority of incident CVD events occur in US adults with SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg. While absolute risk and cost-effectiveness should be considered, additional CVD risk-reduction measures for adults with SBP/DBP <140/90 mm Hg at high risk for CVD may be warranted.

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