By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

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ORLANDO, Florida — More than 100,000 deaths could be prevented annually if adults with common heart disease risk factors would participate in an intensive program to lower the top number in their blood pressure reading, according to a study presented Thursday at the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions.

Researchers, using findings from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, known as SPRINT, released in 2015, found that the program to lower systolic blood pressure to less than 120 mm Hg would reduce the risk of death from all causes by 27 percent. Standard medical practice generally aims to reduce adults’ systolic blood pressure to less than 140 mm Hg.

SPRINT included adults 50 years and older with systolic blood pressure of 130-180 mm Hg, all with high heart disease risk. None had diabetes, stroke or severe heart failure.

Using health data from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that the annual death rate was 2.2 percent among the more than 18 million U.S. adults meeting SPRINT criteria. They projected that intensive systolic blood pressure lowering as studied in SPRINT could prevent about 107,00 deaths each year.

Among 8.9 million U.S. adults meeting SPRINT criteria and having a systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 145 mm Hg, the annual death rate was 2.5 percent and the intensive initiative was projected to prevent about 61,000 deaths a year.

“The SPRINT clinical trial clearly showed that intensive systolic blood pressure lowering lowers risk of death from all causes and will save lives among adults 50 years and older,” said Holly Kramer, M.D., M.P.H., study author and associate professor of public health sciences and medicine at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.