In the news, there has been talk of new blood pressure targets. This stems from a large NIH- sponsored study called the SPRINT study, which found that by lowering systolic blood pressure by medication to less than 120 (compared to 140) the risk of cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke) was reduced by almost a third and risk of death by almost a fourth. Because of this the study was stopped early.

So, will your doctor be using more medications to achieve this goal? At this time there are still some reservations to changing the standards until the full study results are out. Reasons for this are:

  • It is unclear if certain categories of drugs are better than others .
  • It is unclear if patients on more drugs will have more serious adverse reactions.

Patients in the study were over 50, had other cardiovascular risk factors and were non-diabetic so it is unclear if these guidelines would apply to other types of patients.

Hopefully, some of these issues will be addressed soon so doctors can decide what to tell their patients!