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‘Exciting’ drug development could help tackle root cause of ‘untreatable’ silent killer

A DRUG development that researchers have hailed as exciting could help tackle the root cause of a silent killer.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the main causes of a stroke.

Medics say the drugs can stop the body producing a hormone which help to regulate salt (stock image)

Now experts from the UK and the US have found a treatment that could significantly lower blood pressure when other medications have failed.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and colleagues at the US pharmaceutical firm CinCor examined whether patients would benefit from taking a drug called Baxdrostat.

The drug works by stopping the body from makingaldosterone a hormone which helps to regulate the amount of salt in the body.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the experts said patients who received the highest dose saw their blood pressure reduce by 20 points.

The NHS says that high blood pressure can weaken the arteries in the brain making them more likely to split or rupture.

In most cases, people who have high blood pressure can lower it through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise but others may be prescribed medication such as beta blockers.

However, some patients suffer with treatment resistant high blood pressure.

This is defined as a blood pressure reading that remains above the goal despite concurrent use of medication.

A study published in 2019 by experts at the University of Alabama found that patients with this type of illness were more likely to experience clinical outcomes of death, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, or chronic kidney disease (CKD)compared with treated hypertensive patients with controlled blood pressure.

The new research from experts in the UK and US looked specifically at patients who suffered with treatment resistant high blood pressure.

They looked at 248 patients who were either given a placebo drug, or Baxdrostat for a 12 week period.

Those taking smaller doses also saw their blood pressure fall with the strongest doses linked to the highest reductions.

Professor Morris Brown, co-senior author of the study and professor of endocrine hypertension at Queen Mary University of London said: The results of this first-of-its-kind drug are exciting, although more testing is required before we can draw comparisons with any existing medications.

But Baxdrostat could potentially offer hope to many people who do not respond to traditional hypertension treatment.

Prof Brown added that the effectiveness of older drugs in individual patients can vary substantially, whereas a hallmark of this new class is that it can be predicted to work well in the patients whose aldosterone hormone has made them resistant to older treatments.

High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer as in many cases it might not have any symptoms.

The condition puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke, among other illnesses, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US says.

Experts at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) say millions of people may not know they have it until they have a heart attack or stroke.

Their data shows that more than 14 million adults have the condition with around five million being undiagnosed.

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