Media Advisory

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

NIH-funded researchers present preliminary clinical trial results suggesting aggressive blood pressure control may lower risk of cognitive impairment


Preliminary findings from a large clinical trial, the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) Memory and Cognition IN Decreased Hypertension (SPRINT MIND) study will be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago on July 25. The findings suggest that intensive lowering of blood pressure may reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and the combined risk of MCI and dementia, but not dementia alone. The SPRINT MIND study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The participants in SPRINT were adults at high risk for cardiovascular disease and the study previously reported that aggressive blood pressure control reduced cardiovascular events and mortality. In addition to the reduction in the risk of cognitive impairment, the SPRINT MIND preliminary results also suggest that intensive blood pressure control significantly lowered increases in cerebral white matter abnormalities as seen on MRI among a subgroup of participants without diabetes. These abnormalities have been reported to increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

NIH spokespeople can provide important context about these preliminary findings including:

  • Explaining the preliminary nature of these results, their limitations and the importance of peer review
  • Sharing details about the SPRINT, SPRINT MIND and SPRINT Alzheimer’s, Senior and Kidney (ASK) studies
  • Reviewing how a growing body of research has pointed to a link between hypertension-related cerebrovascular disease and dementia
  • Describing NIH’s Mind Your Risks® health campaign to increase awareness of the link between vascular disease and brain health


  • Laurie Ryan, Ph.D., chief, Dementias of Aging Branch, Division of Neuroscience, NIA – NIA is one of the primary funders of SPRINT MIND and sole funder of the SPRINT ASK follow-up study
  • Lawrence J. Fine M.D., DrPH, chief, Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, and Joni K. Snyder, clinical trials specialist, Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, NHLBI – NHLBI is the primary funder of SPRINT
  • Clinton B. Wright, M.D., M.S., director, Office of Clinical Research, and Claudia S. Moy, Ph.D., program director, Office of Clinical Research, NINDS – SPRINT MIND funder and sponsor of the Mind Your Risks® public health campaign to increase awareness of the links between vascular and brain health
  • Paul Kimmel, M.D., M.A.C.P., program director, Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases, NIDDK – SPRINT funder

NIH-funded researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will present preliminary data at an Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) press briefing in Chicago, July 25, 2018, 8 a.m. Central Time/9 a.m. Eastern Time. They will discuss two related abstracts which preview results that aim to directly address the link between hypertension-related cerebrovascular disease and dementia. In the first abstract, researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine suggest that a systolic blood pressure target of <120 mmHg (compared to a target of <140 mmHg) may reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment and the combined risk of MCI and dementia. For the second, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania suggest that the lower blood pressure target reduced the increase in total volume of cerebral white matter lesions on MRI scans.

How these results generalize to other high-risk populations or those without major cardiovascular risk awaits detailed analysis and publication of the final results in a peer-reviewed journal. It is anticipated that these findings will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication later this year.

About the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI): The NHLBI plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at

About the National Institute on Aging (NIA): The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NIA is designated as the lead NIH institute for information on Alzheimer's disease. It provides information on age-related cognitive change and neurodegenerative disease, including participation in clinical studies, specifically on its Alzheimer's website.

About the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): The NIDDK, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute’s research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit

About the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS): NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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