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Most, but not all cross-sectional surveys have identified lower quality of life among patients with hypertension. We summarized the estimates for this association in a systematic review and in a meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies.Studies that used the Short-Form Health Survey (SF) to compare the quality of life of normotensive and hypertensive individuals were searched in Embase, MEDLINE/PubMed, LILACS, Ovid, ScienceDirect, SciELO and Cochrane databases using ‘hypertension’ and ‘quality of life’ medical subject heading (MeSH) terms and the words ‘health survey, SF-12, SF-36 and their spelling variations (SF12, SF 12, SF36 and SF 36)’. Data extraction was conducted by two researchers. Data were analyzed with MIX 1.7 using random effects model. Results of the meta-analysis were expressed as differences of mean scores between hypertensive and normotensive individuals.Most of the 20 studies selected for the systematic review identified lower quality of life in patients with hypertension, but they were very heterogeneous in regard to selection criteria and comparison groups, limiting their external validity. The meta-analysis identified lower scores in hypertensive patients for physical [−2.43; 95% confidence interval (CI) −4.77 to −0.08] and mental (−1.68; 95% CI −2.14 to −1.23) components. Quality of life was lower in the eight domains of the SF-36: physical and functional functioning, role physical and emotional, bodily pain, general health, vitality and mental health.Quality of life of individuals with hypertension is slightly worse than that of normotensive individuals. The influence of high blood pressure and of the awareness to have hypertension requires further investigation.