Purpose: A meta-analysis of the effect of antihypertensive drug treatment on mortality and morbidity in elderly patients.
Data sources: A literature search of published articles from January 1980 to February 1992.
Study selection: Randomized controlled trials of drug treatment of hypertension with end points for elderly patients reported separately.
Data extraction: Mortality or morbidity end points or both in patients older than 59 years were pooled by determination of typical odds ratio. A meta-regression was used to study heterogeneity.
Results: Nine major trials with 15 559 patients older than 59 years were identified. Death rates in the control group varied between 2.7% and 77.2%; stroke and coronary mortality increased with the severity-of-illness rank (P < 0.001). Overall, treated patients had an approximately 12% reduction in all-cause mortality (odds ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80 to 0.97; 953 events compared with 1069 events, P = 0.009). There was a 36% reduction in stroke mortality (odds ratio, 0.64; CI, 0.49 to 0.82; 94 events compared with 149 events, P < 0.001) and a 25% reduction in coronary heart disease mortality (odds ratio, 0.75; CI, 0.64 to 0.88; 263 events compared with 350 events, P < 0.001). Coronary morbidity was reduced 15% (odds ratio, 0.85; CI, 0.73 to 0.99; 325 events compared with 379 events, P = 0.036), and stroke morbidity was reduced 35% (odds ratio, 0.65; CI, 0.55 to 0.76; 247 events compared with 382 events, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Overall, treatment of hypertension in elderly patients produces a significant benefit in total mortality and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, this benefit may be reduced in the oldest age groups.