In an effort to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease, the NHLBI initiated a study called Sprint to answer the question, "Will lower blood pressure reduce the risk of heart and kidney disease, stroke, or age-related declines in memory and thinking?" Sprint researchers are following 9,000 adults with high blood pressure; half are expected to get their systolic blood pressure below 120, and the other half below 140. Study results should be out in 2017.

Eighty million U.S. adults, or one in three, have hypertension (1). Another one in three have prehypertension, defined as blood pressure in the range of 120–139/80–89 mmHg. In addition to costing $48.6 billion annually, hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, chronic renal failure, and stroke (1). Even prehypertension increases the risk of death from CVD (2). Because of its severity, hypertension requires immediate treatment, but prescription drugs may not be the answer.

Diabetics often have lower recommendations for blood pressure, the maximum normal value being seen as 130/80-85. However, it’s questionable whether it’s a good idea to medicate your blood pressure levels down to those values. Diabetics can probably stick to approximately the same upper limit as people with heart disease: 140/90 (according to new studies and expert comments, as well as the latest recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, ADA).