Loyola Medicine enrolling patients in landmark NIH blood pressure treatment trial | Nephrology | Loyola Medicine
Monday, September 21, 2015

Loyola Medicine enrolling patients in landmark NIH blood pressure treatment trial

doctor taking blood pressure

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Loyola University Chicago is among the centers participating in a landmark clinical trial that has found that more intensive management of high blood pressure reduces heart disease rates and saves lives.

The trial included adults 50 years and older with high blood pressure.  It found that adjusting blood pressure medications to achieve a target top number of 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) reduced rates of cardiovascular events by almost a third, and the risk of death by almost a quarter, compared with targeting a top number of 140 mm Hg. (Cardiovascular events include heart attack, heart failure and stroke.)

Loyola University Medical Center enrolled 89 patients in the National Institutes of Health study, called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). Initial results were announced Sept. 11.

“This is the first clinical trial to confirm that a more intensive blood pressure regimen improves cardiovascular outcomes,” said Holly Kramer, MD, principal investigator at the Loyola site, along with co-investigator Vinod K. Bansal, MD. Dr. Kramer is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Division of Nephrology and Dr. Bansal is a professor in the Division of Nephrology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Gary H. Gibbons, MD, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the primary sponsor of SPRINT, said: “The study provides potentially lifesaving information that will be useful to health care providers as they consider the best treatment options for some of their patients, particularly those over age 50. We are delighted to have achieved this important milestone in the study in advance of the expected closure date for the SPRINT trial and look forward to quickly communicating the results to help inform patient care and the future development of evidence-based clinical guidelines.”

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems. An estimated 1 in 3 people in the United States has high blood pressure. 

The SPRINT study evaluates the benefits of maintaining a new target for systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, among a group of patients 50 years and older at increased risk for heart disease or who have kidney disease. A systolic pressure of 120 mm Hg, maintained by this more intensive blood pressure intervention, could ultimately help save lives among adults age 50 and older who have a combination of high blood pressure and at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, the investigators say.

The SPRINT study, which began in the fall of 2009, includes more than 9,300 participants from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. It is the largest study of its kind to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower than currently recommended level will affect cardiovascular and kidney diseases. NIH stopped the blood pressure intervention earlier than originally planned in order to quickly disseminate the significant preliminary results.

The study population was diverse and included women, racial/ethnic minorities, and the elderly.  The investigators point out that the SPRINT study did not include patients with diabetes, prior stroke, or polycystic kidney disease, as other research included those populations.

When SPRINT was designed, the well-established clinical 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.

Between 2010 and 2013, the SPRINT investigators randomly divided the study participants into two groups that differed according to targeted levels of blood pressure control. The standard group received blood pressure medications to achieve a target of less than 140 mm Hg. They received an average of two different blood pressure medications. The intensive treatment group received medications to achieve a target of less than 120 mm Hg and received an average of three medications. 

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.