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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

 

American Heart Month: Controlling blood pressure

A Veteran patient receives a routine blood pressure screening as part of his care at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

A Veteran patient receives a routine blood pressure screening as part of his care at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Blood pressure management is key to reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

By Meredith Hagen, Lead Public Affairs Specialist
Monday, February 1, 2016

February is American Heart Month and researchers at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center are doing their part to help in the treatment of high blood pressure - a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 67 million Americans currently have high blood pressure, and these individuals are three times more likely to die from heart disease and four times more likely to die from a stroke than their counterparts with normal blood pressure.

Recently, Charleston researchers shared the preliminary results of a breakthrough study that could have a significant impact in the treatment of high blood pressure among non-diabetic adults age 50 and older.

Initial results of this landmark clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), indicate that more aggressive management of high blood pressure, below the commonly recommended blood pressure target, significantly reduces rates of heart disease and lowers risk of death among patients in this age group. The intervention in this trial, which carefully adjusts the amount or type of blood pressure medication to achieve a target systolic pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), reduced rates of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and heart failure, as well as stroke, by almost a third and the risk of death by almost a quarter, as compared to the target systolic pressure of less than 140 mm Hg.

"This is very exciting news that could potentially save lives in the future," said Roberto Pisoni, M.D., principle investigator for the study at the Charleston VAMC.  "This study shows that a more intensified blood pressure control can be highly beneficial for older hypertensive patients. In our trial, we have seen about a 25 percent decrease in mortality as compared to the group on the conventional blood pressure control. The larger national trial was actually stopped early based on an interim evaluation of the study, which produced such dramatic results. We continue to see the local participants in the trial here in Charleston and await the published results of the SPRINT trial. The final study will most certainly influence how clinicians treat high blood pressure in patients similar to those we have been following in this trial."


Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Heart Month Events:

National Wear Red Day
Feb. 5
Wear red to foster awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death in American women. Visit www.goredforwomen.org for more information.

Heart Health Fair
Feb. 19, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., Main Auditorium
Learn about the causes of heart disease and how to prevent heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events.

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