The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NHLBI, just released the initial findings of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, SPRINT — two years earlier than expected. The pioneering clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, reported that an increased intensive management of hypertension below the recommended protocol will significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and the risk of death for people who are 50 years and older.
Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI, explained the decision for the timing of the release, “This study provides potentially lifesaving information that will be useful to health care providers as they consider the best treatment options for some of their patients, particularly those over the age of 50. We are delighted to have achieved this important milestone in the study in advance of the expected closure date for the SPRINT trial and look forward to quickly communicating the results to help inform patient care and the future development of evidence-based clinical guidelines.”
SPRINT – the largest study of this kind in history — examined the positive effects of a new lower standard for systolic blood pressure levels in 9,300 diverse participants age 50 and older who are at an increased risk for heart disease or who have kidney disease. Their website states “High blood pressure is a leading cause of death and disability in the US and worldwide. Over 60 % of people over age 65 have high blood pressure and the number of people with high blood pressure is increasing.”
The first study on systolic pressure, previously published in 1991, concluded the systolic blood pressure standard should be less than 150 mm Hg for heart attack and stroke prevention – but historically few have considered the benefits of a lower standard.
Dr. William C. Cushman, chief of preventative medicine at V.A. Medical Center in Memphis explains the discrepancy “The general thinking – incorrectly – was that as you get older, the systolic naturally goes up. The epidemiology is consistent that having a systolic pressure of 120 or even below 120 is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that treating with medications to reach that level will give you that benefit.”
This is a valid concern many doctors agree is worth consideration because many of the drugs used to treat high blood pressure can cause a plethora of side effects, and although they may lower levels, they aren’t able to provide the same health benefits that come with lowering blood pressure naturally.
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Release ID: 91903