The 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines defined hypertension at ≥130/80 mm Hg. Studies on patients with connective tissue diseases were not considered. Our aim was to assess the impact of this definition on atherosclerotic vascular events (AVEs) in systemic lupus erythematosus.
Individuals from the Toronto Lupus Clinic with at least 2 years of follow-up and no prior AVE were divided in three groups according to their mean blood pressure (BP) over that period (≥140/90 mm Hg, 130-139/80-89 mm Hg and <130/80 mm Hg). They were followed until the first occurrence of an AVE (fatal or non-fatal coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular event and peripheral vascular disease) or last visit. Groups were compared as per the baseline atherosclerotic risk factors. A multivariable time-dependent analysis was performed to adjust for the presence of other risk factors.
Of 1532 patients satisfying the inclusion criteria, 155 (10.1%) had a BP ≥140/90 mm Hg, 316 (20.6%) 130–139/80–89 mm Hg and 1061 (69.3%) were normotensives. After a mean follow-up of 10.8 years, 124 AVEs were documented. The incidence rates were 18.9, 11.5 and 4.5 per 1000 patient-years for the three groups, respectively (p=0.0007 between the 130–139/80–89 mm Hg group and the normotensives). A mean BP of 130–139/80–89 mm Hg over the first 2 years was independently associated with the occurrence of AVEs (HR 1.73, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.65, p=0.011).
Patients with lupus with a sustained mean BP of 130–139/80–89 mm Hg over 2 years had a significantly higher incidence of AVEs compared with normotensive individuals. This BP level should be the target for antihypertensive therapy to minimise their cardiovascular risk.