Do we over treat mild hypertension?

Alberto Zanchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The important question whether 'mild' hypertension should or should not be treated by drugs is difficult to answer, because the only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating this question were conducted when the definition of 'mild' hypertension was based on diastolic blood pressure only, whereas the present definition of grade 1 hypertension includes both systolic and diastolic values (SBP/DBP), and the concept of 'mild' hypertension also includes that of low-moderate cardiovascular risk (<5% cardiovascular death rate in 5 years). Due to the lack of evidence from specific RCTs, guidelines recommend drug treatment of mild hypertension only on the basis of expert opinion. However, recent meta-analyses have provided some support to drug treatment intervention in low-moderate risk grade 1 hypertensives and have shown that, when treatment is deferred until organ damage or cardiovascular disease occur, absolute residual risk (events occurring despite treatment) markedly increases. Although evidence favoring therapeutic intervention in mild hypertension is nowadays stronger than expert opinion, meta-analyses are not substitutes for specific RCTs, and the wide BP spans defining grade 1 hypertension as well as the span defining low-moderate risk leave a wide space for individualized or personalized decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1126
Number of pages6
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Antihypertensive treatment
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Grade 1 hypertension
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mild hypertension
  • Randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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