Dr Emma Hart – Treating hypertension

Dr Emma Hart – Treating hypertension

[Music] High blood pressure is a really common disorder, where one in four adults have hypertension. The World Health Organisation recently showed that it is the leading contributor to the global burden of disease. If we can lower blood pressure, we can reduce the risk of stroke, the risk of heart attack, the risk of heart failure and the risk of kidney disease. And another important fact is that Public Health England recently revealed that the diseases caused by hypertension cost the NHS over two billion a year. So the research team that I work with is a translational research team, and that means that we start with research in animals and then translate it through to humans. Using animal models of hypertension, we’ve identified a new target for the treatment of hypertension. We found that the carotid bodies that are situated in the neck of most mammals contribute to the maintenance and development of high blood pressure. The carotid bodies are organs that respond to changes in oxygen level in the blood. So when you get a decrease in oxygen level in the blood, they send signals to the brain and tell the brain to increase breathing rate and blood pressure. When we take out the carotid bodies we see that blood pressure is chronically lowered. So we want to translate those research findings into humans and see what the role of the carotid body is in the development of hypertension in humans. We can measure the sensitivity of the carotid body to changes in oxygen in humans, and we do that by altering the level of oxygen. And then what we do is we measure changes in breathing rate and blood pressure in response to those fluctuations in oxygen. So now we have a new target to try and decrease blood pressure in patients with hypertension. However, a surgical intervention is not all – always the best way to treat patients. A drug is usually better because it’s reversible. We’ve identified a potential new drug that we can use to target the carotid body and decrease its sensitivity which, hopefully, will reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. However, we need to do it as a clinical trial. [Music]

1 Reply to “Dr Emma Hart – Treating hypertension”

  1. Hi there, thanks for the information. Is there any way to keep up to date with the research described here?

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