For those striving to get their systolic blood pressure down to the common target level of 140, you may want to aim a little lower.
According to a study released last week, achieving a level of 120 should be considered the new goal. Researchers monitored thousands of patients, and found that those on blood pressure medication who reached a level of 120 reduced their rates of cardiovascular events by almost a third. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
"This study provides potentially lifesaving information that will be useful to health care providers as they consider the best treatment options for some of their patients, particularly those over the age of 50," writes Gary H. Gibbons, director of the NHLBI.
The study, which began in the fall of 2009, includes more than 9,300 participants age 50 and older. It is the largest study of its kind to date to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower than currently recommended level will impact cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
NIH stopped the blood pressure intervention earlier than originally planned in order to quickly disseminate the significant preliminary results.
"Our results provide important evidence that treating blood pressure to a lower goal in older or high-risk patients can be beneficial and yield better health results overall," Lawrence Fine, chief, Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch at NHLBI said in a press release. "But patients should talk to their doctor to determine whether this lower goal is best for their individual care."