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Researchers: Hope for new treatment for high blood pressure
Untreated hypertension is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and therefore responsible for many heart attacks and strokes. In order to be able to treat hypertension in a targeted manner, scientists searched for the causes of the disease and found that chronic inflammation could play an important role here.
Hypertension often leads to cardiovascular diseases
According to health experts, around 20 to 30 million people in Germany alone suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). It affects more than a billion people worldwide. Untreated hypertension is one of the greatest health risks in the western world. It is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and is therefore responsible for many deaths from heart attacks or strokes. However, little is known about the causes. Researchers have now gained new knowledge and hope for new treatment approaches.
Little known about the causes
High blood pressure is sometimes the result of other diseases such as kidney or metabolic diseases, but according to experts, so-called primary hypertension accounts for about 90 percent of all high blood pressure cases.
It is known that certain factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, high salt and alcohol consumption and smoking promote the development of this form of high blood pressure, but it is not yet known what exactly causes primary hypertension.
Researchers have now gone a step further in finding the exact causes of high blood pressure and have found that chronic inflammation could play a role here.
Possible link between hypertension and chronic inflammation
Scientists from La Trobe University in Melbourne and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia have collaborated with the University of Bonn in a new study to find a possible link between hypertension and chronic inflammation.
The results published in the cardiovascular research magazine could pave the way for completely new treatment methods, reports the Australian-New Zealand University Association / Ranke-Heinemann Institute.
According to the information, anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis should be used.
Conventional therapies do not help all patients
In many cases, high blood pressure can be reduced without medication.
For example, those affected move more, reduce excess weight, avoid an unhealthy, overly salty diet, tobacco and increased alcohol consumption and stress.
If a healthier lifestyle is not enough, doctors prescribe medications to lower the patient's blood pressure. However, these are often not enough for hypertension that is difficult to adjust.
"Up to 20 percent of patients cannot control high blood pressure with current therapies, i.e. diuretics, means to expand blood vessels or medicines to reduce heart rate," said Prof. Grant Drummond of La Trobe University in a message.
"These patients then suffer more from debilitating or fatal heart attacks and strokes," said the expert, who pointed out that it is important to first identify the root cause of high blood pressure before effective therapies can be developed against it.
Enzyme in the kidneys and blood vessels is activated
According to the information, the researchers investigate the possibility that hypertension is triggered by chronic inflammation.
Dr. Anthony Vinh of La Trobe University said the team is reviewing the assumption that factors such as a high-salt or high-fat diet activate an enzyme in the kidneys and blood vessels - the so-called inflammasome.
"Once activated, this enzyme generates chemical signals that attract immune cells and trigger an inflammatory response that disrupts the blood pressure-regulating functions of the kidneys and blood vessels," said Dr. Vinh.
"This process usually protects us from bacteria and viruses, but sometimes the immune cells are confused and react to actually harmless substances," said the expert.
"In hypertension, the" harmless "substances that appear to be at the heart of the problem are glassy pieces of crystalline salt, cholesterol, and uric acid that accumulate in blood vessels and kidneys."
Path for new treatment approaches
According to Prof. Drummond, it is possible to prevent damage to blood vessels and kidneys and to reduce high blood pressure by suppressing the inflammasome's activity and reducing inflammation.
"Anti-inflammatory drugs are already used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout," the specialist explained.
"We have shown that similar drugs can be used just as effectively to lower hypertension in hypertensive mice," said Prof. Drummond.
"These findings could pave the way for new treatment approaches that use drugs that are currently reserved for patients with autoimmune diseases to treat hypertension," said the study author.
"That could help save millions of lives." (Ad)