Controversies in Hypertension II: The Optimal Target Blood Pressure


      The optimal target blood pressure in the treatment of hypertension is undefined. Whether more intense therapy is better than standard, typically <140/90 mm Hg, is controversial. The most recent American guidelines recommend ≤130/80 mm Hg for essentially all adults. There have been at least 28 trials targeting more versus less intensive therapy, including 13 aimed at reducing cardiovascular events and mortality, 11 restricted to patients with chronic kidney disease, and 4 with surrogate endpoints. We review these trials in a narrative fashion due to significant heterogeneity in targets chosen, populations studied, and primary endpoints. Most were negative, although some showed significant benefit to more intense therapy. When determining the optimal pressure for an individual patient, additional factors should be considered, including age, frailty, polypharmacy, baseline blood pressure, and the diastolic blood pressure J-curve. We discuss these modifying factors in detail. Whereas the tenet “lower is better” is generally true, one size does not fit all, and blood pressure control must be individualized.

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