Background. Isolated systolic hypertension occurs in about 15% of people aged 60 years or older. In 1989, the European Working Party on High Blood Pressure whether active treatment investigated cardiovascular complications hypertension. Fatal and non-fatal stroke combined was the primary endpoint. Methods. All patients (≤ 60 years) were initially started on masked placebo. At three run-in visits 1 month apart, their average sitting systolic blood pressure was 160-219 mm Hg with a diastolic blood pressure lower than 95 mm Hg. After stratification for centre, sex, and previous cardiovascular complications, 4695 patients were randomly assigned to nitrendipine 10-40 mg daily, with the possible addition of enalapril 5-20 mg daily and hydrochlorothiazide 12.5-25.0 mg daily, or matching placebos. Patients withdrawing from double-blind treatment were still followed up. We compared occurrence of major endpoints by intention to treat. Findings. At a median of 2 years' follow-up, sitting systolic and diastolic blood pressures had fallen by 13 mm Hg and 2 mm Hg in the placebo group (n = 2297) and by 23 mm Hg and 7 mm Hg in the active treatment group (n = 2398). The between-group differences were systolic 10.1 mm Hg (95% CI 8.8-11.4) and diastolic, 4.5 mm Hg (3.9-5.1). Active treatment reduced the total rate of stroke from 13.7 to 7.9 endpoints per 1000 patient-years (42% reduction; p = 0.003). Non-fatal stroke decreased by 44% (p = 0.007). In the active treatment group, all fatal and non-fatal cardiac endpoints, including sudden death, declined by 26% (p = 0.03). Non-fatal cardiac endpoints decreased by 33% (p = 0.03) and all fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular endpoints by 31% (p <0.001). Cardiovascular mortality was slightly lower on active treatment (-27%, p = 0.07), but all-cause mortality was not influenced (-14%; p = 0.22). Interpretation. Among elderly patients with isolated systolic hypertension, antihypertensive drug treatment starting with nitrendipine reduces the rate of cardiovascular complications. Treatment of 1000 patients for 5 years with this type of regimen may prevent 29 strokes or 53 major cardiovascular endpoints.
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