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Landmark blood pressure study

For adults with high blood pressure, targeting a systolic number of 120 mm Hg vs. 140 mm Hg reduces the rate of cardiovascular events by 25 percent, a NIH-funded study showed.

For adults with high blood pressure, targeting a systolic number of 120 mm Hg vs. 140 mm Hg reduces the rate of cardiovascular events by 25 percent, a NIH-funded study showed.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study found that more is better when it comes to lifesaving interventions to reduce high blood pressure.

The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) began six years ago and included more than 9,300 adults aged 50 and older from throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The trial compared strategies of using blood pressure medications to achieve target goals of less than 120 mm Hg (intensive treatment group) and 140 mm Hg (standard treatment group).

Researchers said it became so clear that intensive intervention saved lives that they announced their study results last month – a year earlier than planned.

“When the benefits of the stronger intervention became apparent in SPRINT, we made a commitment to rapid public health communication and peer-reviewed publication of the study results,” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Gary Gibbons, M.D., said. “We are pleased to present the details of the study’s potentially lifesaving findings at this time.”

According to the NIH, SPRINT confirmed that for adults 50 and older with high blood pressure, targeting a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg vs. 140 mm Hg reduces the rate of heart attack, heart failure and stroke by 25 percent and the rate of death by 27 percent.

While there were some consequences that were more common for those in the intensive group, including low blood pressure, fainting, electrolyte abnormalities and acute kidney damage, researchers said the benefits of intensive blood pressure lowering exceeded potential harms.


Quality sleep

Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to sleep, a study reported in the journal Sleep suggests.

At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, researchers randomly assigned healthy adults to one of three experimental sleep conditions for three consecutive nights in an inpatient setting: sleep interrupted by forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes or uninterrupted sleep. Throughout the study, participants were questioned about their positive and negative emotions, such as cheerfulness or anger.

Following the second night, significant differences were noted, with participants who were forced to awaken reporting about a 30 percent reduction in positive mood and those with later betimes reporting a 12 percent decline in positive mood.

“When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration,” lead study author Patrick Finan said.

According to Finan, the study indicates that the effects of interrupted sleep on mood are cumulative, because differences in mood among the groups became apparent after the second night and continued the day following the third night of the study.


More med school students

The number of students attending U.S. medical schools has reached an all-time high, surpassing 20,000 students this year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Darrel Kirch M.D., AAMC president and CEO, attributed this year’s record number of med school applicants and enrollees to innovative education and training programs at the nation’s medical schools.

Breaking down medical school enrollments this year vs. 2014, the AAMC reported:

• The number of Hispanic or Latino students increased by 6.9 percent, reaching nearly 2,000.

• Among African-Americans, enrollment increased 11.6 percent to more than 1,500, with the number of male enrollees increasing 9.2 percent.

• Males accounted for about 52 percent of the 2015 medical school enrollment.

• Among first-time applicants this year, the number of females increased by 6.2 percent, compared with a 3.5-percent increase in first-time male applicants.

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