Blood Pressure Study Finds Hope In New Treatment

Blood Pressure Being Taken By Doctor

Blood pressure has always been one of the hard fought complications of getting older. But as it turns out, good news came to the blood pressure front on Thursday in the form of a study by JAMA —Journal of the American Medical Association —, which analyzed data from the National Institute of Health’s Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, which included 2636 participants, and says that people over the age of 75 could be helped dramatically by “intensive blood pressure treatment.”

The study divided their subjects into two groups. There were the ones who had an mmHg — or millimeters of mercury; with one mmHg equaling out to 1 torr, which is a medical unit for pressure — of 140. This is the standard and thus is also the control group. Then there were those in the other group who’d had their mmHg dropped to a target of 120.

Both groups were on medication, and the group that had their mmHg dropped to 120 was on more medication than the group that didn’t. In the end, it was found that those who had their blood pressure lowered to 120 mmHg were less likely — by a third — to suffer from almost all of the major ailments which plague those who experience high blood pressure, including stroke and heart attack. What’s more is that virtually none of the subjects reported any negative side effects from the treatment.

High Blood Pressure Patient
Medical Xpress quoted Alfred Cheung, who is chief of nephrology & hypertension at University of Utah, and part of the SPRINT research trial as saying the following.

“This subgroup analysis of the SPRINT trial is significant because many physicians and patients have been concerned about blood pressure being too low in the elderly. These results are reassuring and could very well change current medical practice by lowering the blood pressure goal even in people over 75 years old.”

Dr. Jeff Williamson, who is a professor of geriatric medicine and gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and who also authored the study told Health Day the following.

“These findings have substantial implications for the future of high blood pressure therapy in older adults because of its high prevalence in this age group, and because of the devastating consequences high blood pressure complications can have on the independent function of older people.”

Dr. Williamson went on to say that he believes many can benefit from the treatment since the trial mainly used generic drugs, which are “fairly inexpensive,” and that about half of all elderly people that are forced to go into care facilities due to a medical issue, do so because of complications caused by high blood pressure.

Before participating in the blood pressure trial, applicants had to complete a questionnaire which was used to measure the persons frailty, a running exercise, and they also had their blood pressure taken three times.

It should be noted that the trial was specifically geared toward those that were 75 years of age and older, who suffered from hypertension — high blood pressure — but who also didn’t suffer from diabetes.

According the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure may eventually be the cause of certain health issues including stroke, heart attack, and heart disease; heart disease being the leading killer of people in the United States, with over 600,000 people dying every year from the ailment.

These new findings show the possible benefits of having a lower blood pressure later on in life, and it will be up to the medical community to decide whether or not they’re going to change the standard. For now it remains at 140 mmHg.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]