Are you caring for an older person with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure? Or does your parent take medication to lower blood pressure?
If so, you are probably wondering just what is the right blood pressure (BP) for your older relative, especially given the 2015 publication of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (abbreviated as “SPRINT”) research results.
[Looking for information related to the November 2017 new high blood pressure guidelines? See here: New High Blood Pressure Guidelines Again: What the Cardiology Hypertension Guidelines Mean for Older Adults.]
The SPRINT study first made headlines in September 2015, in part because the findings seemed to contradict the expert hypertension guidelines released in December 2013, which for the first time had proposed a higher goal BP ( a systolic BP of less than 150mm mercury) for most adults aged 60 or older.
In particular, SPRINT randomly assigned participants — all of whom were aged 50 or older, and were at high risk for cardiovascular events — to have their systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number) treated to a goal of either 140, or 120. Because the study found that people randomized to a goal of 120 were experiencing better health outcomes, the study was ended early.
For those of us who specialize in optimizing the health of older adults, this is obviously an important research development that could change our medical recommendations for certain seniors.
But what about for you, or for your older relative? Do the SPRINT results mean you should talk to the doctor about changing your BP medications?
Maybe yes, but quite possibly no. In this article, I’ll help you better understand the SPRINT study and results, as well as the side-effects and special considerations for seniors at risk for falls. This way, you’ll better understand how SPRINT’s findings might inform the BP goals that you and your doctors choose to pursue.
Here’s what this post will cover regarding the SPRINT study:
- Who was included and excluded from SPRINT, and what the research intervention involved, including the type of BP medications that were used most often
- What the actual likelihood of benefits and harms was within SPRINT, and what you might expect if you are similar to the SPRINT participants
- Why you probably need to make a change in how your blood pressure is measured before considering a SPRINT-style systolic BP goal of 120.
- What this means for new blood pressure guidelines