Intensive management of high blood pressure can significantly reduce cardiovascular disease morbidity, according to initial results of a multi-site landmark study, led by Dr Dominic Raj at the George Washington University (GW).
By targeting blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), lower than current guidelines, researchers found that adults with 50 years and older significantly lowered their rates of cardiovascular diseases and events, such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke by almost one third.
The risk of death due to cardiovascular disease was reduced by almost a quarter, compared to the target systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg.
"This research will have a significant impact on the way physicians treat patients with high blood pressure," said Dominic Raj, professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and director of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at The GW Medical Faculty Associates.
"Thanks to support from the National Institutes for Health, the thousands of patients who participated, and the hundreds of researchers involved, patients over 50 with high blood pressure will receive potentially lifesaving treatment," said Raj.
The results are part of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
The SPRINT study that started in 2009, includes more than 9,300 participants age 50 and older, recruited from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the US and Puerto Rico, including GW.
It is the largest study to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower than currently recommended level will impact cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
National guidelines recommended a systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg for healthy adults and 130 mm Hg for adults with kidney disease or diabetes.
Researchers designed SPRINT to determine the potential benefits of achieving systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg for hypertensive adults 50 years and older who are at risk for developing heart disease or kidney disease. The researchers are also examining kidney disease, cognitive function, and dementia in SPRINT study participants.