The lower the better, new blood pressure study suggests

The lower the better, new blood pressure study suggests

Study suggests blood pressure levels should be even lower that current guidelines.

A new study just released may prompt doctors to be even more aggressive in treating patients over 50 with high blood pressure, says an article on the Washington Post.

The National Institutes of Health released the study Friday saying patients who were able to lower their blood pressure well below the current standard were able to significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and death.  The evidence of a benefit was convincing enough that the NIH ended the study almost a year earlier than planned.

The group cautioned the results are preliminary and that physicians should not alter their treatment plans until the final results are in, but added, if these findings hold true, treatment guidelines could be greatly influenced.

Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120 over 80, with high blood pressure being defined as more than 140 over 90.  one out of every three adults in the U.S. has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which can lead to risk of heart attacks, strokes and other health issues.

Currently, most guidelines recommend the systolic pressure, the top number in the reporting of the measurement, be controlled to be below the 140 mark in healthy patients, and below 130 in those who suffer from kidney ailments or diabetes.

The study, known as the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) began in 2010, with more than 9,300 patients with high blood pressure enrolled.  Half of the patients received medications designed to lower their systolic to 140, while the other half received doses aiming at lowering their systolic to 120.

The risk of death in the more aggressively-treated group dropped to almost 25 percent less than their counterparts, and rates of cardiovascular problems fell by nearly 30 percent in the group.  Preliminary results say the treatment was extremely well tolerated by the patients.

The average age of the patients in the study was 68, with 25 percent of them 75 and over.

Researchers say they will continue to track the study participants to monitor for other issues, such as kidney disease, brain function and dementia.


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