Hypertension is a major risk factor for ischemic cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease, which are respectively the primary and secondary most common causes of morbidity and mortality across the globe. To alleviate the risks of hypertension, there are a number of effective antihypertensive drugs available. However, the optimal treatment blood pressure goal for antihypertensive therapy remains an area of controversy. The results of the recent Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) trial, which found benefits for intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure, have been debated for several reasons. We aimed to assess the benefits of treating to four different blood pressure targets and to compare our results to those of SPRINT using a method for causal inference called the parametric g formula. We applied this method to blood pressure measurements obtained from the electronic health records of approximately 200,000 patients who visited the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY. We simulated the effect of four clinically relevant dynamic treatment regimes, assessing the effectiveness of treating to four different blood pressure targets: 150 mmHg, 140 mmHg, 130 mmHg, and 120 mmHg. In contrast to current American Heart Association guidelines and in concordance with SPRINT, we find that targeting 120 mmHg systolic blood pressure is significantly associated with decreased incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events. Causal inference methods applied to electronic methods are a powerful and flexible technique and medicine may benefit from their increased usage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-191
Number of pages12
JournalPacific Symposium on Biocomputing
StatePublished - 2018
Event23rd Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing, PSB 2018 - Kohala Coast, United States
Duration: 3 Jan 20187 Jan 2018


  • Blood pressure
  • Causal inference
  • Electronic health records
  • Parametric g formula
  • Preventative medicine


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