Health News 'World's biggest silent killer': Breakthrough could revolutionise treatment of blood pressure !

Removing one of the smallest organs in the human body could dramatically reduce blood pressure in patients who do not respond to medicines, potentially revolutionising treatments for thousands. Tiny organs, no larger than a grain of rice, called the carotid bodies, located near the artery that carries blood to the head and neck, were found to play a major role in causing and maintaining high levels of blood pressure.

Although the study, carried out by researchers at the University of Bristol and published in Nature Communications, looked at models of high blood pressure in rats, their findings were so significant that they have already led to a human clinical trial in 20 patients, which will be completed early next year. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects nearly a third of people in the UK and is known as “the silent killer” because thousands of patients do not know they have the condition. Large numbers of patients do not respond well to the various drug treatments, such as ACE inhibitors and Beta-blockers, that can be prescribed to keep blood pressure low, and still more find it difficult to keep up their medicines regime because of common side effects.

Professor Julian Paton, from Bristol’s School of Physiology and Pharmacology, said that the discovery of the carotid bodies’ role in causing high blood pressure was unexpected.

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