Study examines whether lower blood pressure reduces kidney disease progression

March 21, 2011

Georgia Health Sciences University is enrolling patients in a federally funded study to determine if a lower blood pressure reduces the progression of kidney disease.

"The question is, if you have kidney disease, should your blood pressure goal be lower?" said Dr. Laura Mulloy, Chief of the GHSU Section of Nephrology and a principal investigator for the Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The standard is to keep the systolic pressure – the top number indicating pressure inside blood vessels when the heart pumps – below 140 for those with signs of kidney damage. GHSU physician scientists will help about half of the 100 patients they enroll in the study get that number below 120.

Additionally, the study will measure the lower pressure's impact on cognitive function.

High blood pressure affects about 1 in 3 Americans. Often dubbed the "silent killer" many patients are unaware they are hypertensive until their kidneys begin failing.

Population-based and observational studies suggest lower blood pressure is healthier for the brain and the kidney but this is the first clinical study to objectively measure the impact.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, kidney disease and other maladies but at a certain point low pressure can become problematic as well, Mulloy said. "You have to weigh the risk-benefit ratio," she said. "We would like for the blood pressure to be controlled optimally, but at the same time not have blood pressure so low that it impairs patients' ability to function."

Only about one third of Americans with unhealthy blood pressure achieve adequate blood pressure control. "We have to be vigilant in getting blood pressure to reach targeted goals," said Mulloy, citing the combination of a healthy, low-salt diet, exercise and often more than one medication.

"I think we can get people to goal," said Dr. Matt Diamond, GHSU nephrologist and SPRINT co-investigator, whose hypertension and service has helped close to 60 percent of its patients obtain good control. "It's clear that a better blood pressure slows the progression of kidney disease. We want to know if a lower blood pressure can do even better."

Participants in the SPRINT trial need to be age 55 and older with chronic kidney disease. Those already taking high blood pressure medication are eligible; participants will be placed or kept on commonly used drugs such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics. Diabetics are ineligible because of the condition's risk of kidney failure.

The researchers will follow study participants for up to six years, regularly checking baseline measures such as blood pressure; levels of creatinine, a breakdown product that can be measured in the blood as an indicator of kidney function; and cognitive function.

Nationally about 4,300 patients with chronic will be followed. A parallel study is exploring the impact of a lower blood pressure on cardiovascular disease.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Anti-malaria drug shows promise as Zika virus treatment

November 17, 2017
A new collaborative study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective ...

Decrease in sunshine, increase in Rickets

November 17, 2017
A University of Toronto student and professor have teamed up to discover that Britain's increasing cloudiness during the summer could be an important reason for the mysterious increase in Rickets among British children over ...

Scientists identify biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

November 17, 2017
Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease.

Research team unlocks secrets of Ebola

November 16, 2017
In a comprehensive and complex molecular study of blood samples from Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, published today (Nov. 16, 2017) in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ...

Study raises possibility of naturally acquired immunity against Zika virus

November 16, 2017
Birth defects in babies born infected with Zika virus remain a major health concern. Now, scientists suggest the possibility that some women in high-risk Zika regions may already be protected and not know it.

A structural clue to attacking malaria's 'Achilles heel'

November 16, 2017
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) have shed light on how the human immune system recognizes the malaria parasite though investigation of antibodies generated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.