Lowering blood pressure could prevent common heart valve disorder

Lowering blood pressure could prevent common heart valve disorder

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Oxford found a strong link has been established between high blood pressure and the most common heart valve disorder in developed countries.

The disorder is called mitral regurgitation, which leads to a backflow of blood into the heart, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, tiredness, dizziness and chest pain.

It makes the heart less efficient at pumping blood around the body, and in severe cases can lead to heart failure.

It is more common in older people and may be associated with a greater risk of mortality.

Despite significant advances in the understanding of valve disease, mitral regurgitation has until now been largely considered a degenerative disorder, resulting from a weakening of the valve over time due to ‘wear and tear’.

This has led medical practitioners to focus on treatment — namely surgery to repair or replace the valve — rather than prevention.

In the current study, the researchers followed 5.5 million adults in the UK for over 10 years.

They found that higher blood pressure in early life was linked to a much greater future risk of mitral regurgitation.

The research suggests this common and disabling valve disorder is not an inevitable consequence of aging but may be preventable.

One possible way to prevent disorder is by reducing high blood pressure.

It also suggests further research is needed to test whether lowering blood pressure — through exercise, diet or blood pressure-lowering drugs — could reduce the risk of the disorder occurring.

Given the large and growing burden of mitral valve disease, particularly among older people, these findings are likely to have significant implications for medical policy and practice around the world.

Professor Kazem Rahimi is the lead author of the study and deputy director of The George Institute UK.

The study is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Copyright © 2018 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.
Journal reference: Kazem Rahimi, et al. Elevated blood pressure and risk of mitral regurgitation: A longitudinal cohort study of 5.5 million United Kingdom adults. PLOS Medicine, 2017; 14 (10): e1002404 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002404.