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Major breakthrough in BP diagnosis could save billions in healthcare

IANS Dec 26, 2023

A team of researchers has discovered a way to predict who will respond to blood pressure treatments to lower sodium in the body.

The team from The Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle in Australia figured out how to use each person’s genetics to inform treatment. Their findings were published in Circulation, a prestigious international cardiology journal.

"High blood pressure -- or hypertension-related disease -- kills up to 20 per cent of people. At least 30 per cent of the adult population has it -- that’s one in three Australian adults -- and only 30 per cent of those people get it under control,” said Professor Murray Cairns in a paper published in the journal Circulation.

“The way people respond to drugs is different. We can measure an individual’s genetic risk of developing high blood pressure concerning the physiological systems responsible -- including kidneys, heart or smooth muscle - and then target medications accurately,” Cairns explained.

Some hypertension medications work to lower sodium -- and subsequently blood volume -- in the body.

Cairns says that while many people have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure that is triggered or exacerbated by a high salt modern diet, they will respond well to treatment that reduces sodium.

For some people, salt is not a significant factor in their hypertension so they may benefit more from treatments that target other biological aspects of their genetic risk.

With 80 per cent of people ending up with some form of chronic disease, and 20 per cent with two or more, genetic insights driving precision medicine could have a massive impact on global health.

The team used real-world data from the UK biobank to measure the interaction between sodium-associated genetic scores, sodium levels and blood pressure.

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