GW participates in landmark study; blood pressure management can reduce heart disease death

September 14, 2015

WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2015) -- According to initial results of a multi-site landmark study, led by Dominic Raj, M.D., at the George Washington University (GW) site, cardiovascular disease morbidity is significantly reduced through intensive management of high blood pressure.

By targeting a blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), lower than current guidelines, researchers found that adults 50 years and older also significantly reduced their rates of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and heart failure, as well as stroke, by almost a third. The risk of death was reduced by almost a quarter, compared to the target systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg.

"This research will have a significant impact on the way physicians treat patients with high blood pressure," said Dominic Raj, professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and director of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at The GW Medical Faculty Associates. "Thanks to support from the National Institutes for Health, the thousands of patients who participated, and the hundreds of researchers involved, patients over 50 with high blood pressure will receive potentially lifesaving treatment."

The results are part of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Beginning in the fall of 2009, the SPRINT study includes more than 9,300 participants age 50 and older, recruited from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including GW. It is the largest study of its kind to date to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower than currently recommended level will impact cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

When SPRINT was designed, national guidelines recommended a systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg for healthy adults and 130 mm Hg for adults with kidney disease or diabetes. Investigators designed SPRINT to determine the potential benefits of achieving systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg for hypertensive adults 50 years and older who are at risk for developing heart disease or kidney disease.

"As principal investigator for the GW site, it has been an honor to collaborate with our patients in the Washington, D.C. area and those within the GW community," said Dominic Raj. "Working with GW physicians from General Medicine Clinics and the Division of Cardiology has contributed greatly to our success."

The SPRINT study is also examining kidney disease, cognitive function, and dementia in SPRINT study participants. Dominic Raj and his research team at GW are also participating in a genetic component of the SPRINT study.
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In addition to primary sponsorship by the NHLBI, SPRINT is co-sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Aging.

Media: For more information or to interview Dr. Dominic Raj, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation's capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation's capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. smhs.gwu.edu

About The GW Medical Faculty Associates

The GW Medical Faculty Associates is committed to comprehensive, quality and accessible patient care in the communities we serve. We are the largest, independent physician group in the Metropolitan Washington area offering primary care and 51 specialties with more than 750 providers committed to coordinated, patient-centered care built on a rich history of academic medicine. Our physician practices are located in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Find a provider and location convenient to you by visiting http://www.gwdocs.com.

George Washington University

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