New Systolic Blood Pressure Goal of 120

Healthy HeartThe NIH-sponsored the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) in 2009 and has just released preliminary results suggesting that treating blood pressure to a lower goal (systolic of 120 instead of 140) improves health outcomes. The study was designed to answer the question: “Will treating high blood pressure (BP) to a lower blood pressure goal (120 instead of 140 systolic BP) reduce the risk of heart and kidney diseases, stroke, or age-related declines in memory and thinking?” Their results are so impressive that the NIH has released this press release ahead of publication. You can read the press release here…

They found heart attacks, strokes, acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, and death due to cardiovascular causes were reduced by almost one-third and risk of death was lowered by almost one-quarter!

Heart disease is the leading killer from heart attacks and cause of disability in the form of strokes, reduced heart function, and age-related memory decline. Heart disease is responsible for nearly 800,000 deaths a year in the USA. The study, “Vital Signs: Predicted Heart Age and Racial Disparities in Heart Age Among U.S. Adults at the State Level,” published September 2015,  which you can find here… found that “overall, average predicted heart age for adult men and women was 7.8 and 5.4 years older than their chronological age, respectively.”

While the findings of the SPRINT study will have many running to their doctor for another prescription, and if you are already older and/or experiencing health issues from your heart disease, you should work to get your systolic closer to 120, even if that requires medication. What excites me more is the opportunity for us all to realize that the heart disease that gets us in old age can be prevented – YES PREVENTED – if we lower our heart risk factors now!

A simple way to determine your heart attack and stroke risk is to calculate your heart age. Almost half of Americans have a heart age that is at least 5 years older than they are. It is estimated that 3/4 of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented by modifying risk factors. “Adopting a healthy lifestyle could have a profound effect on reducing excess heart age. For example, a male smoker aged 50 years with untreated systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg, no diabetes, and a BMI of 30, has a predicted heart age of 72 years (74 years for a female with similar characteristics) Quitting smoking for 1 year alone would have reduced predicted heart age by 14 years (15 years), reducing systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg alone would have reduced predicted heart age by 6 years (10 years), and removing both risk factors would have lowered predicted heart age by 19 years.” Again, you can read more on this here…


  1. Quit smoking
  2. Reduce your weight (if over weight)
  3. Eat to avoid or reduce diabetes risk (whole foods and low or no processed foods)
  4. Maintain a normal blood pressure
  5. Exercise to assist in all the above


To determine your heart age, visit:


You will need to know your BMI (Body Mass Index) which can be calculated by many apps like:


I found it personally very motivating to enter my own data. It was clear that weight reduction would be my main task and could potentially add many years to my life. Try it!

More than the added years to spend with your loved ones and follow your passions, you will have more productive years with greater health and less disability. No one wants to live long if they are disabled and suffering.


Dr. Paul



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