Estimating the Population Benefits of Blood Pressure Lowering: A Wide-Angled Mendelian Randomization Study in UK Biobank.
Journal of the American Heart Association 2021 ; 10: e021098.
DOI : 10.1161/JAHA.121.021098
PubMed ID : 34459231
PMCID : PMC8649307
Background The causal relevance of elevated blood pressure for several cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is uncertain, as is the population impact of blood pressure lowering. This study systematically assesses evidence of causality for various CVDs in a 2-sample Mendelian randomization framework, and estimates the potential reduction in the prevalence of these diseases attributable to long-term population shifts in the distribution of systolic blood pressure (SBP). Methods and Results We investigated associations of genetically predicted SBP as predicted by 256 genetic variants with 21 CVDs in UK Biobank, a population-based cohort of UK residents. The sample consisted of 376 703 participants of European ancestry, aged 40 to 69 years at recruitment. Genetically predicted SBP was positively associated with 14 of the outcomes (<0.002), including dilated cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, peripheral vascular disease, and rheumatic heart disease. Using genetic variation to estimate the long-term impact of blood pressure lowering on disease in a middle-aged to early late-aged UK-based population, population reductions in SBP were predicted to result in an overall 16.9% (95% CI, 12.2%-21.3%) decrease in morbidity for a 5-mm Hg decrease from a population mean of 137.7 mm Hg, 30.8% (95% CI, 22.8%-38.0%) decrease for a 10-mm Hg decrease, and 56.2% (95% CI, 43.7%-65.9%) decrease for a 22.7-mm Hg decrease in SBP (22.7 mm Hg represents a shift from the current mean SBP to 115 mm Hg). Conclusions Risk of many CVDs is influenced by long-term differences in SBP. The burden of a broad range of CVDs could be substantially reduced by long-term population-wide reductions in the distribution of blood pressure.