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BACKGROUND: The last few years have seen a considerable increase in the amount of information available concerning blood pressure (BP) and stroke associations. This article provides an overview of published reviews of the effects on stroke seen in trials of BP-lowering drugs and compares these with the results available from cohort studies. SUMMARY OF REVIEW: We present a review of major overviews of prospective cohort studies and an updated meta-analysis of >40 randomized controlled trials of BP lowering, which included >188 000 participants and approximately 6800 stroke events. Cohort studies now indicate that in the Asia Pacific region as well as in North America and Western Europe, each 10 mm Hg lower systolic BP is associated with a decrease in risk of approximately one third in subjects aged 60 to 79 years. The association is continuous down to levels of at least 115/75 mm Hg and is consistent across sexes, regions, and stroke subtypes and for fatal and nonfatal events. The proportional association is age dependent but is still a strong and positive association in those aged 80 years. Data from randomized controlled trials, in which mean age at event was approximately 70 years, indicate that a 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic BP is associated with a reduction in risk of stroke of approximately one third. Per mm Hg systolic BP reduction, the benefits for stroke appear similar between agents, by baseline BP levels, and whether or not individuals have a past history of cardiovascular disease. There is, however, evidence of greater benefit with a larger BP reduction. CONCLUSIONS: The epidemiologically expected benefits of BP lowering for stroke risk reduction are broadly consistent across a range of different population subgroups. There are greater benefits from larger BP reductions, and initiating and maintaining BP reduction for stroke prevention is a more important issue than choice of initial agent.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





776 - 785


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antihypertensive Agents, Asia, Blood Pressure, Causality, Cohort Studies, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Europe, Female, Humans, Hypertension, Male, Middle Aged, North America, Prospective Studies, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Risk, Stroke, Treatment Outcome