Research: new guidelines for blood pressure in U.S.

Nov 10, 2015, 4:20 PM EST
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The U.S. government halted a study earlier this year because of its solid findings, and has released some of the data and new recommendations for doctors and patients in regards to blood pressure health. The study shows that there should be a focus on driving systolic blood pressure levels to below 120 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) as opposed to previously recommended levels of 140. CBS News reports that the results from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida:

“For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 9,361 participants with a systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher and an increased cardiovascular risk, and who didn't have diabetes, to one of two groups: a standard treatment group in which the systolic blood pressure target was less than 140 mm Hg, or an intensive treatment group in which the target was less than 120 mm Hg. They tracked outcomes including heart attacks, acute coronary syndromes, stroke, heart failure, or death.”
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study adds to earlier findings released in September. Researchers at that time stopped their study at 3.26 years — short of the originally planned five-year mark — because of the strength of the findings.
The New York Times quotes Dr. Paul K. Whelton, a principal investigator for the study, as saying: “Overall, there was a 24 percent reduction — 243 compared with 319 — in people who had a heart attack, heart failure or stroke or died from heart disease.”
The Associated Press notes that after one year, 1.65% of the lower pressure group had suffered a major heart problem or heart-related death, compared to 2.2% of the others -- a 25% lower risk. About 3.3% of the lower pressure group died, versus 4.5% of the others -- a 27% lower risk.