Reporting of consistency of blood pressure control in randomized controlled trials of antihypertensive drugs: a systematic review of 1372 trial reports.
Hypertension is a powerful treatable risk factor for stroke. Reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antihypertensive drugs rightly concentrate on clinical outcomes, but control of blood pressure (BP) during follow-up is also important, particularly given that inconsistent control is associated with a high risk of stroke and that antihypertensive drug classes differ in this regard. We performed a systematic review of reporting of BP control in RCTs of antihypertensive drugs. We searched bibliographic databases (1950-2009) for systematic reviews of RCTs of BP-lowering and identified the main report of all trials. We identified 94 larger trials (>100 participants/arm, >1-year follow-up) and 1278 smaller/shorter trials. Ninety-one (96.8%) larger trials reported some data on mean BP during follow-up, but none reported effects on the consistency of control of BP over time. Although 81 (86.2%) larger trials reported group distribution of BP at baseline (usually SD), only 22 (23.4%) reported such data at any follow-up visit. Eleven (11.7%) larger trials reported group distribution of the change in BP from baseline to follow-up, but 61 (64.9%) reported no data at all on group distribution of BP at follow-up. Thirty-nine (41.5%) trials reported the proportion of patients reaching some BP target during follow-up, but no trial reported data on the consistency of control to target within individuals over time. Similar proportions were observed in the 1278 smaller/short trials. Reporting of BP control is limited in RCTs of BP-lowering drugs. We suggest reporting guidelines.