In a study that one doctor described as providing "potentially lifesaving information", results show intensive management of high blood pressure — below a commonly recommended blood pressure target — significantly reduces rates of cardiovascular disease and lowers risk of death in a group of adults 50 and older with high blood pressure.
- The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
- 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 study found the intervention, which adjusted the amount or type of blood pressure medication to achieve a target systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg, reduced rates of cardiovascular events such as a heart attack and stroke as nearly a third.
In addition, such intervention reduced the risk of death by almost 25%, as compared to the target systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. An estimated one in three Americans has high blood pressure.
"This study provides potentially lifesaving information that will be useful to healthcare providers as they consider the best treatment options for some of their patients, particularly those over the age of 50," said Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the primary sponsor of SPRINT in a prepared statement.
The study began in 2009 and includes more than 9,300 diverse participants age 50 and older from about 100 medical centers and practices in the US and Puerto Rico. The investigators point out the SPRINT study did not include patients with diabetes, prior stroke, or polycystic kidney disease, as other research included those populations.
The study is also examining kidney disease, cognitive function, and dementia among the patients; however, those results are still under analysis and are not yet available as additional information will be collected over the next year. The primary results of the trial will be published within the next few months.