How much does blood pressure matter?

Stricter blood pressure management could lower risk of death in older adults with cardiovascular issues, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers studied more than 9,000 people age 50 or older in two groups, one using the standard treatment targeting a systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg and the other using an intensive treatment targeting a level of less than 120 mm Hg. The group using the intensive treatment had significantly lower incidences of stroke, heart attacks and serious cardiovascular problems—almost half the rate of the group using the standard treatment for blood pressure control.

The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) was conducted across 102 clinical site in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The current recommendation for people over age 60 is a systolic blood pressure below 150. The Joint National Committee U.S. raised the recommended level to trigger intervention treatment for seniors from 140 to 150 in late 2013, but the change has not garnered the support of the American Heart Association. The recent data in the NEJM study seems to support the rationale of earlier intervention and lower systolic rates, but more data is needed, researchers say.

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Topics: Clinical