Researchers discover personalised approach to high blood pressure treatment


A new study by researchers at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University of Newcastle has uncovered a way to optimise blood pressure treatment responses using genetics.

A team led by Professor Murray Cairns at HMRI and the University of Newcastle has developed a way to predict individual responses to blood pressure medications targeting sodium levels. Their findings were published this week in cardiology journal Circulation.

“High blood pressure kills up to 20 percent of people. At least 30 percent of adults have it, and only 30 percent get it under control,” explains Professor Cairns. “A 25% drop in hypertension prevalence could save the Australian government $34 billion per year.”

The researchers utilised genetics to inform personalised treatment approaches. “We can measure someone’s genetic hypertension risk related to key systems like the kidneys and heart, then target medications accordingly,” says Professor Cairns.

Some drugs lower blood pressure by reducing sodium and fluid levels. While a sodium-rich diet can trigger high blood pressure in genetically predisposed individuals who respond well to these treatments, sodium is not a major factor for others who may benefit more from alternative therapies targeting different biological mechanisms.

Precision medicine leveraging genetic insights could revolutionise treatment of chronic diseases like hypertension. The team analysed real-world data on genetics, sodium levels, and blood pressure from the UK Biobank. Their methodology stratifies individuals to optimise treatment responses.

“By understanding each person’s unique hypertension risk factors, we can move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to targeted, genetically-guided care,” emphasises Professor Cairns.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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