(HealthDay News) — Clinicians should control hypertension much more aggressively than current guidelines suggest, to best reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people 50 or older. That’s the message behind the potentially game-changing results of a U.S. National Institutes of Health study released Friday.

The clinical trial, known as SPRINT, included more than 9,300 participants aged 50 and older, recruited from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The SPRINT researchers randomly divided the study participants into 2 groups, 1 whose blood pressure was controlled to the current guidelines and another whose systolic blood pressure was kept at less than 120 mm Hg. Between 2010 and 2013, the standard group took an average of 2 different blood pressure medications to meet the recommended goal, while the intensive treatment group received an average of 3 medications.

The researchers found that a target systolic pressure of 120 mm Hg reduced rates of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke by almost a third, compared with the currently recommended target pressure of 140 mm Hg for healthy adults and 130 mm Hg for adults with kidney disease or diabetes. A blood pressure target of 120 mm Hg also reduced the risk of mortality by about one-quarter.

“We are delighted to have achieved this important milestone in the study in advance of the expected closure date for the SPRINT trial and look forward to quickly communicating the results to help inform patient care and the future development of evidence-based clinical guidelines,” Gary Gibbons, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the primary sponsor of SPRINT, said in an institute new release.


  1. NIH News release, September 11, 2015.