Health officials declared on Friday that their latest major study have concluded with promising lifesaving information. The study answered a question at which doctors have scratched their head for decades: what is the optimal blood pressure? It turns out that it has to be much lower than what the modern guidelines suggest.
Cardiologists have been uncertain about how low our blood pressure has to be for a very long time. Patients with high blood pressure obviously had to bring it down, but until now it remained a mystery just how much. The team of researchers found that the risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke was reduced by a third in the patients who reached an assigned systolic blood pressure that is below 120. To put things in perspective, most modern guidelines currently recommend a goal of 140 or 150. Turns out that a blood pressure below 120 significantly reduces the risk of death by nearly 25%.
The systolic blood pressure is the top number of the two blood pressure numbers, and it represents the pressure applied on the blood vessels after the heart contracts. The other number is for the diastolic blood pressure.
In the study, which was inexplicably called “Sprint”, more than 9,500 randomly selected men and women of ages above 50 who had high risks of heart disease were assigned to reach a systolic blood pressure goal of less than 120, much lower than the 140 guidelines suggest.
Though the study was expected to end in 2017, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute announced that the data will be published within a couple of months, thanks to the results that could prove to be of great importance to public health. Dr. Gary Gibbons said that the institute’s study could provide potentially lifesaving information.
Dr. Michael Gaziano, professor at Harvard, made an official statement that this study will drastically change cardiologists’ conceptions on this issue. He believes that the findings will have the same effect on the population as their previous study on cholesterol lowering has, particularly for those over the age of 50. While the president of American Heart Association, Dr. Mark Creager, said that these are outstanding news.
Nearly one out of three adults in the US have high blood pressure, with over half of those being treated for it still having systolic blood pressures of over 140. The “Sprint” study will continue exploring other concerning health issues such kidney disease and dementia.
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