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Noone, C;Leahy, J;Morrissey, EC;Newell, J;Newell, M;Dwyer, CP;Murphy, J;Doyle, F;Murphy, AW;Molloy, GJ
European Journal Of Preventive Cardiology
Comparative efficacy of exercise and anti-hypertensive pharmacological interventions in reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension: A network meta-analysis
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Aims: This analysis aims to estimate the comparative efficacy of anti-hypertensive medications and exercise interventions on systolic and diastolic blood pressure reduction in people with hypertension. Methods: A systematic review was conducted focusing on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of exercise interventions and first-line anti-hypertensives where blood pressure reduction was the primary outcome in those with hypertension. Network meta-analyses were conducted to generate estimates of comparative efficacy. Results: We identified 93 RCTs (N = 32,404, mean age in RCTs: 39-70 years) which compared placebo or usual care with first-line antihypertensives including angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers and thiazide-like diuretics and exercise interventions including aerobic training and dynamic resistance training. Of these, there were 81 (87%) trials related to medications (n = 31,347, 97%) and 12 (13%) trials related to exercise (n = 1057, 3%). The point estimates suggested that antihypertensive medications were more effective than exercise but there was insufficient evidence to suggest that first-line medications significantly reduced blood pressure to a greater extent than did the exercise interventions. Of the first-line treatments, angiotensin receptor blockers and calcium channel blockers had the highest treatment ranking, while exercise had the second lowest treatment ranking, followed by control conditions. Conclusion: The current evidence base with a bias towards medication research may partly explain the circumspection around the efficacy of exercise in guidelines and practice. Clinicians may justifiably consider exercise for low risk hypertension patients who confirm a preference for such an approach.
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