High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force of lowing through the arteries is too high. High blood pressure is the heart’s worst enemy, and the leading cause of death. In America, one of every three adults has high blood pressure, risking people’s health. Majority of people know that lowering blood pressure can prevent many medical problems, but some of them may have no idea the standard of the blood pressure. The truth is that over 100,000 American lives could be saved if people lowered their blood pressure too much than currently recommended.
The risks were reinforced by the results of a much anticipated trial called SPRINT. They tracked people who kept their blood pressure at the currently recommended 140 mmHg and also people who dropped their blood pressure levels even lower to 120 mmHg or less. In this study, the conclusion is that it is better to have a lower blood pressure. People who met 120 mmHg levels had fewer heart-related deaths or early deaths from any cause. The study authors even stopped the trial early due to the findings.
Researchers from the University of Utah approximated the number of people in the United States met the standard of high risk of high blood pressure in order to count the number of lives can be saved if people lower their blood pressure. After that, the group looked at national survey data from 1999 to 2006 and identified 2,000 men and women who met the criteria and projected that whether those people at a high risk adopted dramatic low blood pressure treatment, 107,500 deaths could be prevented each year.
An assistant professor of population health sciences at the University of Utah, Adam Bress said, “I can’t stress enough the importance of optimal blood pressure treatment. We think this is a lower bound estimate since it is only the people who meet SPRINT criteria. There are likely more people who could be treated intensively.”
Dramatically lowering blood pressure is very risky. People have to take more medications than they already do, and bear more lab testing. Taking too many blood pressure drugs can raise the risk of low blood pressure and symptoms like fainting. Still, Bress says “I think most patients may prefer taking extra medication to reduce their risk of early death, stroke or heart attack.”
Eventually, Bress says he beliefs there will be more shared decision-making between doctors and patients, with conversations that discuss evidence that lower blood pressure goals could prevent more health problems.