LIFESTYLE

High Blood Pressure: How This Simple £15 Test Could Cure Over 1 Million People

05/08/2013 12:09 BST | Updated 05/08/2013 12:18 BST
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In Britain, 16 million people suffer from high blood pressure and a recent study by Cambridge University has found that 10% of sufferers - 1.6 million could be cured if they were diagnosed early.

The study concentrated on a form of high blood pressure that is cause by tiny, benign tumours of the adrenal gland, reported the Daily Mail. The gland is a hormone-producing organ on top of the kidney.

The tumours could be detected, in theory, by a £15 test, which would then result in keyhole surgery and remove the need for life-long blood pressure drugs. Consequently it could also reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke.

The optimum age for the treatment is under 40, but the surgery could work for older sufferers, however it is less effective as years of the body suffering under high blood pressure have taken their toll.

Professor Brown, an honorary consultant physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, wants those in their twenties and thirties whose blood pressure is found to be high during a routine doctor’s appointment to be given the blood test.

The NHS currently estimates that 30% of people in Britain have high blood pressure and aren't aware of it. "All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. If you haven’t had yours measured, or you don’t know what your blood pressure reading is, ask your GP to check it for you," advises the website.

HOW TO PREVENT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

  • Losing weight if you need to

  • Exercising regularly

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol

  • Stopping smoking

  • Cutting down on salt and caffeine

Source: NHS

The findings were described by the British Heart Foundation as an "exciting development" but emphasised that early diagnosis was critical.

The Cambridge study, which was published in the journal Nature Genetics, took scans of men and women with high blood pressure to detect the tumours. They were then removed with surgery, and the patients had their DNA analysed. This revealed that the majority of the patients had a mutation that increases the hormone that raises blood pressure - aldosterone.

The study is especially important in the area of high blood pressure because most people don't realise they have it until it is too late, and the condition manifests in the form of a heart attack or stroke.