The old rule for blood pressure was to keep the systolic BP below 140. Systolic BP is the first number when the nurse or doctor tells you your BP. When our hearts beat, it is called a systole. The circulatory system is not like water from your kitchen faucet, which comes out at a constant pressure. Blood pressure surges with each heartbeat. The National Institute of Health, through its branch National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, launched a study to determine what, if any benefit there would be if BP was maintained lower than 140. The researchers found plenty of benefits.
Cleverly named SPRINT- Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial-(we’re betting they started with the acronym and created the name) studied 9,000 plus individuals, comparing those treated with the old standard of getting BP below 140 to a more aggressive target of under 120. Key members of the research team from NIH were Laurie Ryan, PhD, Lawrence J. Fine, MD, DrPH, and Clinton B. Wright, MD, MS. They found that the more aggressively controlled group were 19% less likely to develop new cases of mild cognitive impairment that the standard group and 15% less likely to develop any form of dementia.