MONDAY, May 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Intensive high blood pressure treatment may protect against a-fib, a heart rhythm disorder that can lead to stroke, heart attack and heart failure, researchers say.
They analyzed data from more than 8,000 high blood pressure patients who were at increased risk of heart disease and enrolled in a U.S. National Institutes of Health trial known as SPRINT.
Participants were on either an intensive blood pressure control regimen (target less than 120 mm Hg) or standard treatment (target less than 140 mm Hg).
Over five years, the standard control group had 118 cases of atrial fibrillation, compared with 88 in the intensive control group.
Lowering systolic blood pressure to less than 120 reduced a-fib risk by 26% compared to the less-aggressive treatment, according to the Wake Forest School of Medicine study recently published in the journal Hypertension.
The effect of intensive blood pressure reduction on a-fib risk was similar for all groups, regardless of sex, race or blood pressure levels.
"Hypertension is the most common modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation," said lead author Dr. Elsayed Soliman, professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest, in Winston-Salem, N.C. "And now, we have a potential pathway for prevention."
The SPRINT study's main results were published in 2015. Previous SPRINT findings by Wake Forest researchers found that lowering blood pressure reduces risk of mental impairment and may slow age-related brain damage.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on high blood pressure.
SOURCE: Wake Forest School of Medicine, news release, May 4, 2020