Intensive Systolic Blood Pressure Control Would Risk Side Effects But Save Lives Interview with:

Dr. Adam Bress, PharmD, MS. Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences Division of Health System Innovation and Research University of Utah

Dr. Adam Bress

Dr. Adam Bress, PharmD, MS.
Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
Division of Health System Innovation and Research
University of Utah What is the background for this study?

  • Observational studies show a strong and graded association between higher blood pressure, beginning at 115 mm Hg systolic, and increased cardiovascular disease events.
  • Despite this, hypertension is diagnosed and treated among people with a blood pressure threshold, typically 140/90 mm Hg SBP/DBP.
  •  Until recently, randomized trials did not provide definitive evidence supporting lower SBP goals in high-risk sub-populations.
  • The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial showed that among U.S. adults at high cardiovascular disease risk but without diabetes, stroke, or heart failure, treating to a systolic blood pressure goal of 120 mm Hg compared to the standard goal of 120 mm Hg compared to the standard goal of <140 mm Hg, resulted in a 27 % reduction in all-cause mortality.
  • However, intensive treatment cause a higher rate of treatment-related serious adverse events (SAEs). What are the main findings?

  • To quantify the potential benefits and risks of SPRINT intensive goal implementation, we estimated the deaths prevented and excess SAEs incurred if the SPRINT intensive SBP goal (i.e., – Based on population estimates of U.S adults that would have been eligible for the SPRINT trial and their observed 5-year mortality rate and the treatment effects observed in SPRINT, we found that if intensive treatment is widely adopted and achieved in all of these people, about 100,000 deaths per year could be prevented.
  • It could also give rise to about 56,100 episodes of hypotension, 34,400 episodes of syncope, 43,400 serious electrolyte disorders, and 88,700 cases of acute kidney injury per year compared to standard blood pressure treatment. What should readers take away from your report?

  • The public health impact of wide-spread implementation of intensive blood pressure treatment in the right patients is large.
  • However, careful patient selection and implementation are important because intensive treatment is associated with increased risk of hypotension, syncope, electrolyte abnormalities, and acute kidney injury. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

  • More research is needed to determine which patients derive the largest absolute benefit from intensive blood pressure treatment in order to maximize health benefits and minimize harms.
  • Research and development of tools to enhance shared decision making between providers and patients is also needed to maximize the positive public health impact of intensive blood pressure treatment. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: I am a member of the SPRINT Research Group Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Circulation. 2017 Feb 13. pii: CIRCULATIONAHA.116.025322. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.025322. [Epub ahead of print]
Potential Deaths Averted and Serious Adverse Events Incurred from Adoption of the SPRINT Intensive Blood Pressure Regimen in the U.S.: Projections from NHANES.
Bress AP1, Kramer H2, Khatib R3, Beddhu S4, Cheung AK4, Hess R5, Bansal VK6, Cao G3, Yee J7, Moran AE8, Durazo-Arvizu RA3, Muntner P9, Cooper RS3

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD