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Blood pressure-heart valve disorder link

Thursday October 19th, 2017

People diagnosed with hypertension early in life face an increased risk of developing mitral regurgitation, according to a new British study.

Mitral regurgitation is a condition in which the heart's ability to circulate blood is reduced due to a backflow of blood into the heart. It leads to shortness of breath, tiredness, dizziness, chest pain and difficulty with even mild exercise. If untreated it carries a risk of heart failure.

Researchers led by Professor Kazem Rahimi of The George Institute for Global Health, Oxford, UK, analysed figures on 5.5 million adults in the UK for a follow-up period of ten years. This suggested that individuals diagnosed with hypertension in early life were at a significantly raised risk of later mitral regurgitation.

Details appeared in PLoS Medicine.

Professor Rahimi says: "Our research suggests this common and disabling valve disorder is not an inevitable consequence of ageing, as previously assumed, but may be preventable.

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

"With worldwide ageing and population growth, we are likely to see an increasing number of cases of this condition. We need to find effective and affordable measures to tackle it, and our study suggests one possible avenue for prevention, by reducing high blood pressure."

The research team explain that mitral regurgitation has previously been considered a degenerative disorder, as it occurs more often with age, to the focus has been on treatment with valve replacement surgery rather than on prevention.

They now believe that further research could show that lowering blood pressure through exercise, diet or medication could reduce the risk of the disorder developing.

Rahimi, K. et al. PLoS Medicine 17 October 2017 [abstract]

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | Transplant

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