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Test offers blood pressure cure hope

Wednesday November 30th, 2011

British researchers say a new test could enable doctors to identify thousands of people whose blood pressure could be cured with a simple treatment.

As many as one in 20 of those with high blood pressure may unknowingly have a condition called Conn's syndrome, which is caused by a benign tumour on the adrenal glands.

Currently the condition has to be diagnosed using a complex blood test.

Now a study at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, has shown that a scanning technology used to diagnose cancer can detect the tumour.

Once detected the tumour, usually the size of a British 5p coin, can be treated by surgical removal or with a drug to block the hormone it releases.

Researchers, led by Professor Morris Brown, of Cambridge University, tested the effectiveness of PET-CT scans on 44 patients, showing it can identify all large tumours and most smaller ones.

Professor Brown said he was planning a large study to establish how best to use the test - and identify patients who may benefit.

He said: "We were excited to see our technique work so well, and shortcut the delays and discomforts associated with the alternative test.

"The test could be especially important for older patients – we often see growths in the adrenal glands during a routine CT scan. Often these growths are not Conn’s adenomas, but it’s difficult to be sure and they create a lot of anxiety in patients and doctors.

"In the future PET-CT could be a quick way to reassure a lot of patients without the need for detailed investigations."

Dr Shannon Amoils, of the British Heart Foundation, which has backed the research, said: “Conn’s syndrome is the most common curable cause of high blood pressure. And although it affects only a small fraction of people with hypertension, it’s almost certainly more widespread than we previously thought."

Evaluation of the Sensitivity and Specificity of 11C-Metomidate Positron Emission Tomography (PET)-CT for Lateralizing Aldosterone Secretion by Conn’s Adenomas. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1537.

Tags: Heart Health | UK News

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