Lower Blood Pressure Target Could Save Lives: Study

Lower Blood Pressure Target Could Save Lives: Study

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Millions of Americans could avoid heart disease if doctors controlled their high blood pressure more aggressively than previously recommended, a groundbreaking study contends.

The SPRINT trial has revealed that a target systolic blood pressure of 120 reduces by about one-quarter the rate of death, heart attack, heart failure and stroke, compared with the currently recommended target pressures of 140 for people under age 60 and 150 for seniors.

“This is, in my view, the most important blood pressure study of the last 40 years,” Dr. Dan Jones, a past president of the American Heart Association, said during a presentation on SPRINT Monday at the association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The final results were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to coincide with the meeting presentation.

Systolic pressure is the top of the two blood pressure numbers; it indicates the pressure being placed on blood vessels when the heart beats.

Jones said the SPRINT findings will likely weigh heavily on any future revisions the American Heart Association will make to its blood pressure treatment guidelines.

At least 16.8 million Americans could potentially benefit from the type of aggressive therapy pursued under SPRINT, according to a related report in the Nov. 9 online issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

That includes 10.8 million adults who directly fall under the guidelines by which people were included in the SPRINT trial — aged 50 or older, a systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, said lead author Adam Bress, a research assistant professor of pharmacotherapy at the University of Utah.

“These are the individuals most likely to benefit from a new blood pressure target, because they meet all of the criteria that the SPRINT enrollees met,” Bress said. “That’s a very large group of people.”

But it also includes 3 million people who have systolic blood pressure between 130 and 139 who are already taking medication. “Based on SPRINT, these people may benefit from increasing their dosage or adding more medications,” Bress said.

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