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Time to bury “hypertension”

An absolute cardiovascular risk approach will better target patients who need pharmacotherapy

The publication of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), sponsored by the United States National Institutes of Health, has left physicians claiming that systolic blood pressure targets of < 120 mmHg are too low and unobtainable, and that the results are not generalisable to their “real” patients.1 Although it was ostensibly a “hypertension optimal treatment” trial, it was also, in effect, a quasi-trial of the treatment for elevated blood pressure in high risk individuals who would otherwise remain untreated. This can be argued because the study population were all high risk patients determined by age, clinical conditions or Framingham risk score, and the entry-level systolic blood pressure was 130 mmHg rather than the normal treatment threshold of 140 mmHg. The low entry level, with a mean systolic blood pressure of 139.7 mmHg, probably explains the low targets achieved in the intensive treatment group. The study demonstrated not only that the reduction of systolic blood pressure leads to benefits in decreasing the rates of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but also that this reduction could be achieved with relative safety, even for older patients, as there was no overall difference in serious adverse event rates between the intensive treatment…