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J Hum Hypertens. 1999 Dec;13(12):859-63.

Overview of the outcome trials in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension.

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  • 1Hypertensie en Cardiovasculaire Revalidatie Eenheid, Departement voor Moleculair en Cardiovasculair Onderzoek, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.



Isolated systolic hypertension affects over 8 to 15% of all subjects older than 60 years. In the elderly, systolic hypertension is the major modifiable cardiovascular risk factor. Three placebo-controlled outcome trials on antihypertensive drug treatment of this disorder have been published. The aim of this article was to shortly review each of these three trials and to present the pooled estimates of benefit of antihypertensive drug treatment in isolated systolic hypertension in the elderly.


The Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP) in the United States, the Systolic Hypertension in Europe (Syst-Eur) trial and the Systolic Hypertension in China (Syst-China) trial published their main findings in 1991, 1997 and 1998, respectively. The outcome results of these trials were pooled by calculating the common odds ratio for active versus placebo treatment for five major end-points. Zelen's exact test for homogeneity did not reach statistical significance for any of the end-points considered. Thus, the hypothesis of a common underlying treatment effect across the three trials was not rejected. Overall, active treatment compared with placebo, reduced all-cause mortality by 17%, cardiovascular mortality by 25%, all cardiovascular end-points by 32%, total stroke by 37% and myocardial infarction including sudden death by 25%.


The pooled results of the outcome trials in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension prove that antihypertensive drug treatment must be prescribed, if on repeated measurement systolic blood pressure is 160 mm Hg or higher.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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