Applying the more stringent SPRINT criteria to a general population of persons with hypertension would yield a significant reduction in the number of people meeting their treatment goals, although those who do would achieve a significant reduction in their risk of cardiovascular disease, a study published June 13 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found.

Min Jung Ko, Ph.D., of the National Evidence-Based Healthcare Collaborating Agency in Seoul, Korea, and coauthors explored the relative impacts of SPRINT target of less than 120 mm Hg for hypertension treatments with the 2014 hypertension recommendations of the Eighth Joint National Committee of less than 140 mm Hg, using data from 13,346 individuals in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2008-2013, and 67,965 individuals in the Korean National Health Insurance Service health examinee cohort of 2007.

The investigators found that 11.9% of adults with hypertension would meet the treatment goals of the SPRINT criteria, compared with 70.8% who would meet the 2014 recommendations.

However, the analysis showed that those who met the more aggressive SPRINT treatment goal of systolic BP below 120 mm Hg also had the lowest 10-year risk of a major cardiovascular event (6.2%), compared with 7.7% in those who met the 2014 targets but not the SPRINT targets, and 9.4% in those who failed to meet the 2014 treatment targets (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016 Jun 13. doi 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.03.572 ).

After adjustment for factors such as age, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hyperlipidemia, body mass index, and smoking, the least-controlled group showed a 62% increase in the risk of cardiovascular events, compared with the SPRINT criteria group. Those who met the 2014 criteria had a 17% greater risk than those who met the SPRINT criteria.

“Despite greater cardiovascular protection with intensive BP lowering, achieving SPRINT-defined BP goals might not be easy or practical because the target BP was not met in more than one-half of the participants in the intensive-treatment group,” the authors wrote.

Individuals who were older, female, or had diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or prevalent cardiovascular disease were more likely to meet the stricter goals of SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), in which combined cardiovascular events occurred in 5.2% of patients treated to a target systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg and 6.8% of patients treated to a target of less than 140 mm Hg ( N Engl J Med. 2015;373:2103-16 ).

Researchers also noted a significant linear association between lesser blood pressure control and an increased risk of myocardial infarction and stroke, although there was no significant trend seen relating to cardiovascular or all-cause mortality. The authors noted that this was the opposite to what was observed in the original SPRINT trial, where there was a reduction in cardiovascular mortality and heart failure but only a modest, nonsignificant impact on MI or stroke.

“Although the exact reasons remain unclear, this discrepancy might be explained in part by differences in study design, population characteristics, clinical practice pattern, or race or ethnic groups,” they suggested. “The generalizability of the SPRINT experience to multiple groups of various ethnic backgrounds warrants further investigations and is likely to be of considerable interest.”

Unlike the SPRINT trial, the Korean analysis did not look into the potential adverse effects of more aggressive blood pressure–lowering, but the authors noted that the SPRINT trial did see an increased incidence of more serious adverse events, including hypotension, syncope, and acute kidney injury.

“Therefore, beyond the BP target per se, several important factors should be considered for optimal BP management in the contemporary medical setting; for example, an integrated and systematic assessment of combined risk factors and baseline cardiovascular risk, concomitant preventive medical therapies, cost-effectiveness, clinician-patient discussions of the potential benefits and harms, or the clinical judgment of the treating physician.”

The National Evidence-Based Healthcare Collaborating Agency, Seoul, South Korea, funded the study. No conflicts of interest were declared.