Low exercise blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality: Systematic review and meta-analysis


      • First robust meta-analysis on prognosis related to low exercise blood pressure (LowExBP).
      • LowExBP was related to cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.
      • Results were independent of resting blood pressure and other risk factors.
      • Relation with outcomes was regardless of patient status, exercise mode or intensity.
      • Findings confirm that LowExBP is a risk factor requiring optimal medical care.



      The independent prognostic significance of abnormally low systolic blood pressure (SBP) during exercise stress testing (LowExBP) across different clinical and exercise conditions is unknown. We sought by systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the association between cardiovascular/all-cause outcomes and LowExBP across different patient clinical presentations, exercise modes, exercise intensities and categories of LowExBP.


      Seven online databases were searched for longitudinal studies reporting the association of LowExBP with risk of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events and/or all-cause mortality. LowExBP was defined as either: SBP drop below baseline; failure to increase >10 mmHg from baseline or; lowest SBP quantile among reporting studies.


      After review of 13,257 studies, 19 that adjusted for resting SBP were included in the meta-analysis, with a total of 45,895 participants (average follow-up, 4.4 ± 3.0 years). For the whole population, LowExBP was associated with increased risk for fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.01, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.59–2.53, p < 0.001). In continuous analyses, a 10 mmHg decrease in exercise SBP was associated with higher risk (n = 9 HR: 1.13, 95% CI: 1.06–1.20, p < 0.001). LowExBP was associated with increased risk regardless of clinical presentation (coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or peripheral artery disease), exercise mode (treadmill or bike), exercise intensity (moderate or maximal), or LowExBP category (all p < 0.05). However, bias toward positive results was apparent (Eggers test p < 0.001 and p = 0.009).


      Our data show that irrespective of clinical or exercise conditions, LowExBP independently predicts fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality.


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