Federal-sponsored study confirms lower blood pressure can reduce cardio disease, deaths
- Researchers confirmed preliminary findings showing a lower blood pressure target can save lives and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in a group of non-diabetic adults 50 years and older with high blood pressure.
- The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, confirms that, in adults 50 years and older with high blood pressure, targeting a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) reduced rates of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and heart failure, as well as stroke, by 25%.
- It is the largest study of its kind to date to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower-than-currently-recommended level will impact cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
The SPRINT study, which began in the fall of 2009, included more than 9,300 participants age 50 and older, recruited from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. About 36% of participants were women, 58% were white, 30% were African-American, and 11% were Hispanic. The SPRINT study did not include patients with diabetes, prior stroke, or polycystic kidney disease, as other NIH trials were studying those particular populations.
Approximately 28% were 75 or older and 28% had chronic kidney disease. The study tested a strategy of using blood pressure medications to achieve the targeted goals of less than 120 mm Hg (intensive treatment group) versus 140 mm Hg (standard treatment group). The NIH stopped the blood pressure intervention in August—a year earlier than planned—after it became apparent that this more intensive intervention was beneficial.
In the report, investigators provided detailed data showing both cardiovascular deaths and overall deaths were lower in the intensive treatment group.
In addition to its primary cardiovascular outcome, the study continues to examine kidney disease, cognitive function, and dementia among the SPRINT participants. These results are not yet available as additional information will be collected and analyzed over the next year.
Results of SPRINT appear in the current online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Follow Jeff Byers on Twitter