Preliminary results from a large study showed that achieving a lower blood pressure target than currently recommended significantly reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, and lowered risk of death in a group of older adults with hypertension.

The SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) study assessed the benefits of maintaining a new target for systolic blood pressure for a patients aged ≥50 years old at increased risk for heart disease or those who have kidney disease. The study included over 9,300 patients starting from the fall of 2009 across 100 medical center and practices throughout the United States. At the time of the study, clinical guidelines recommended a systolic blood pressure of <140mmHg for healthy adults and 130mmHg for adults with kidney disease or diabetes. Study authors set out to determine the benefits of achieving <120mmHg for adults aged ≥50 years with hypertension at risk for developing heart disease or kidney disease.

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One study group (“standard”) received an average of two antihypertensives to meet a target of <140mmHg. The other group (“intensive”) received an average of three antihypertensives to meet a target of <120mmHg. Meeting the target systolic pressure of 120mmHg reduced the rate of cardiovascular events by almost one-third and the risk of death by almost one-fourth vs. a target of 140mmHg. The study intervention was stopped earlier than planned to announce the significant initial study findings.

Study findings support that managing blood pressure to a lower goal in high-risk or older adults can be “beneficial and yield better health results overall,” noted Lawrence Fine, MD, chief, Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch at NHLBI.

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