High blood pressure (BP) is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. High BP has been defined as any number larger than 140 to 160 /90 to 100 mmHg and as a result this range of BPs has become the standard blood pressure target for physicians and patients. Over the last five years a trend toward lower targets has been recommended by hypertension experts who set treatment guidelines. This trend is based on the assumption that the use of drugs to bring the BP lower than140/90 mmHg will reduce heart attack and stroke similar to that seen in some population studies. However, this approach is not proven.
This review was performed to find and assess all trials designed to answer whether lower blood pressure targets are better than standard blood pressure targets. Data from 7 trials in over 22,000 people were analysed. Using more drugs in the lower target groups did achieve modestly lower blood pressures. However, this strategy did not prolong survival or reduce stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. More trials are needed, but at present there is no evidence to support aiming for a blood pressure target lower than 140/90 mmHg in any hypertensive patient.