Lowering Blood Pressure Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

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15 Sep 2016 --- More than 100,000 deaths could be prevented annually if adults with specific common risk factors for heart disease would engage in an intensive program to lower their blood pressure, a new study has revealed. The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions.

Researchers used the findings from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), released in 2015.

“Standard medical practice generally aims to reduce adults’ systolic blood pressure to less than 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg),” said Holly Kramer, M.D., M.P.H., study author, and associate professor of public health sciences and medicine at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.

“Our study sought to find out what the reduction in risk of death would be if all US adults who met criteria for the SPRINT trial were treated with intensive systolic blood pressure lowering.”

The SPRINT trial included adults age 50 years and older with systolic blood pressure of 130 – 180 mm Hg, all with high heart disease risk, including previous heart disease or high Framingham risk score for future heart disease but none had diabetes, stroke or severe heart failure.

Using health data from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, Kramer and colleagues determined that more than 18 million US adults met SPRINT criteria at the time of their study.

They found the annual death rate in the 18 million people studied was 2.2 percent and projected that intensive systolic blood pressure lowering as studied in SPRINT could prevent approximately 107,00 deaths each year.

“The SPRINT clinical trial clearly showed that intensive systolic blood pressure lowering lowers risk of death from all causes and will save lives among adults aged 50 years and older,” Kramer said.

However, Kramer also told NutritionInsight that lowering systolic blood pressure could benefit all adults, explaining, “The SPRINT trial did not have an upper age limit and it showed no significant difference in mortality with intensive systolic blood pressure lowering with age.”

“In other words, intensive systolic blood pressure lowering reduced cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality in people younger AND older than 75 years of age. Thus, intensive systolic blood pressure lowering will likely extend the lives of older adults and prevent strokes and heart failure.”

Kramer and her research group have plans to continue the study, stating, “We are currently collecting pilot data to complete an implementation study of intensive systolic blood pressure lowering in a clinical setting.”

by Hannah Gardiner

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