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When Publicity Preempts Peer Review

About 2 months ago, the media was full of news stories about a study called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). This media attention wasn’t because of the publication of a peer-reviewed article. It was because the National Institutes of Health held a media briefing about ending the trial early.

At the time, we knew that SPRINT was a randomized controlled trial of more aggressive targets for blood pressure control in adults aged 50 years or older with hypertension. Participants also had an increased risk of cardiovascular events but were excluded if they had diabetes, a history of stroke, or polycystic kidney disease. Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with a target of 120 mm Hg or 140 mm Hg systolic pressure. The main outcome of interest was cardiovascular outcomes and kidney disease.

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