Clinical Effect of Naturally Random Allocation to Lower Systolic Blood Pressure Beginning Before the Development of Hypertension

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Systolic blood pressure (SBP) rises approximately linearly with age in most societies. The cause of this rise is unclear. We tested the hypothesis that SBP is causally associated with the rate of rise in SBP with age by evaluating the effect of 12 polymorphisms associated with lower SBP on the age-related rate of rise in SBP in a series of meta-regression analyses involving ≤199 477 participants in 63 studies. We then evaluated the effect of these polymorphisms on the odds of coronary heart disease in 22 223 case and 64 762 control subjects and compared it with the effect of lower SBP observed in both prospective cohort studies and blood pressure–lowering randomized trials. All 12 polymorphisms were associated with both lower SBP and a slower age-related rise in SBP. The weighted mean effect of these 12 polymorphisms was associated with a 0.32-mm Hg lower SBP (P=1.79×10−7) and a 0.093-mm Hg/decade slower age-related rise in SBP (P=3.05×10−5). The effect of long-term exposure to lower SBP on coronary heart disease mediated by these polymorphisms was 2-fold greater than that observed in prospective cohort studies (P=0.006) and 3-fold greater than that observed in short-term blood pressure treatment trials (P=0.001). We conclude therefore that SBP seems to be causally associated with the rate of rise in SBP with age and has a cumulative effect on the risk of coronary heart disease.

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