Background: Arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in hypertensive patients. The influence of different antihypertensive drug classes on improving arterial stiffness beyond blood pressure reduction is not widely available. We aimed to determine whether the artery stiffness can be improved because of antihypertensive treatments independently of blood pressure lowering.
Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis of individual data from 15 randomized, controlled, double-blind, parallel group trials performed in our laboratory between 1987 and 1994. The primary endpoint was the changes of carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) after treatment in 294 patients with mild-to-moderate essential hypertension untreated. Treatments tested were placebo (n = 88), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) (n = 75), calcium antagonists (n = 75), beta-blocker (n = 30), and diuretic (n = 26).
Results: In the short-term and long-term trials, PWV decreased significantly by −0.75 and −1.3 m/s in the active treatment group compared with by +0.17 and −0.44 m/s in the placebo group, respectively. Active treatment was independently related to the changes in PWV and explained 5 and 4% of the variance in the short-term and long-term trials, respectively. In the short-term trials, ACEIs were more effective than calcium antagonists and placebo on improving arterial stiffness. In the long-term trials, ACEI, calcium antagonists, beta-blocker, and diuretic reduced significantly PWV compared to placebo.
Conclusion: Our study shows that antihypertensive treatments improve the arterial stiffness beyond their effect on blood pressure.