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CWRU School of Medicine wins $14.7 million NIH grant to help lead national blood pressure study

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has won a $14.7 million, nine-year contract from the National Institutes of Health to be one of five institutions to lead a high blood pressure trial. In all, the national Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) will be conducted in more than 80 clinical sites across the United States at a cost of $114 million.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Case Western Reserve University School of  Medicine has won a $14.7 million, nine-year contract from the National Institutes of Health to be one of five institutions to lead a high blood pressure trial.

In all, the national Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) will be conducted in more than 80 clinical sites across the United States at a cost of $114 million, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said in a written statement.

“SPRINT is an important comparative effectiveness research study for a common and potentially costly condition,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in the statement. “The combined expertise and resources of four institutes of the NIH maximizes our efforts to develop the scientific evidence to help patients and their doctors determine the best treatment options for them.”

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Case School of Medicine will lead a clinical center network of investigators from several Northeast Ohio institutions and Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus to figure out whether lowering systolic blood pressure — the “top” number in the blood pressure ratio — in hypertensive patients who do not have diabetes to below the currently recommended level can reduce cardiovascular and kidney disease, and slow cognitive decline.

Dr. Jackson T. Wright Jr., professor of medicine at the Case medical school and director of the Clinical Hypertension Program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland will direct the study. Dr. Mahboob Rahman at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center will serve as co-principal investigator.

“The objective of the study is to evaluate whether treating patients to systolic blood pressure of less than 120 reduces the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease, or age-related cognitive decline, more than the usually recommended level of less than 140,” Wright said in a written statement. “We suspect that treating to the lower level of 120 will result in fewer cardiovascular and kidney complications. However, this needs to be proven.”

The Case research collaborators are Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, University Hospitals Medical Practices. Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Centers and St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland also will be involved in the center study. Ohio State medical school collaborators include its Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism and Division of Nephrology.

SPRINT findings will be used to reevaluate the optimal blood pressure for patients and have the potential to establish new guidelines for health care providers. SPRINT will enroll about 7,500 participants, aged 55 or older, with systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher.

Participants will have a history of cardiovascular disease or be at high risk for heart disease by having at least one additional risk factor, except diabetes. Between 40 and 50 percent of participants will have chronic kidney disease. Black and other minority patients will make up at least 30 percent of the study. The Case medical school center will recruit about 1,500 patients.