Recommendations for healthy blood pressure numbers may change, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week that aiming for a lower blood pressure rate saves more lives. The SPRINT Study (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) found that patients who got their blood pressure well below today’s usually recommended level significantly cut their risk of heart disease and death. The benefit was strong enough that NIH stopped the study about a year early.
Approximately 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure, raising the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80. High blood pressure is diagnosed once that measurement reaches, or passes, 140 over 90. Current guidelines recommend getting the top number (systolic pressure) down to about 140 in generally healthy adults and to 130 in patients who also have kidney disease or diabetes.
NIH sponsored a nationwide study to test if aiming for a lower systolic rate would either help or harm. The study started in 2010 and looked at more than 9,300 high blood pressure patients. Half received an average of about two medications with the goal of lowering their systolic pressure below 140. The other half received an average of three medications with the goal of getting below 120.
The half that were given three medications, with the goal of 120 and below, saw their risk of death drop by almost 25%, compared with the less controlled patients, researchers said. Another benefit was that rates of cardiovascular problems dropped by almost 30% in the better-controlled group.
The full study will be published at the end of the year.
For some tips to lowering blood pressure and keeping it at a healthy level, click here.
Photo from here, with thanks.