Scientists discover new major cause of high blood pressure

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In a new study, researchers found that the hormone aldosterone is a common and unrecognized contributor to high blood pressure.

The research was conducted by a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and elsewhere.

High blood pressure affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide and is arguably the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke.

Primary aldosteronism is a condition where the adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone aldosterone, which causes high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Primary aldosteronism has traditionally been considered to be an uncommon cause of hypertension, however, the findings of this study show that it is much more common than previously recognized.

In the study, the team examined patients with normal blood pressure, stage 1 high blood pressure, stage 2 high blood pressure, and resistant high blood pressure to determine the prevalence of excess aldosterone production and primary aldosteronism.

They found that there was a continuum of excess aldosterone production that paralleled the severity of blood pressure.

Importantly, most of this excess aldosterone production would have not been recognized by currently recommended diagnostic approaches.

According to the team, this finding supports the need to redefine primary aldosteronism from a rare disease to, instead, a common syndrome that manifests across a broad severity spectrum and may be a primary cause of high blood pressure.

Since generic medications that block the deleterious effects of aldosterone already exist and are easily available, these findings suggest that using these drugs more frequently to treat hypertension may be an effective way to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The lead author of the study is Jenifer M. Brown, M.D.

The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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