A drug costing ?1.30 a day could help millions of people living with high blood pressure. Currently used to treat diabetes, it has been identified as a potential lifeline for one in four Brits with the condition after a trial of more than a million people.
The landmark study is the biggest ever into hypertension and has identified 500 new gene regions that make us more than three times as likely to develop it. Led by Queen Mary University and Imperial College London, the team analysed DNA including from 500,000 people in the UK.
The findings suggest a host of existing drugs for other diseases could combat high blood pressure. One of the newly discovered gene regions is targeted by Type 2 diabetes drug ?Canagliflozin. A daily dose also lowers blood sugar levels and helps keep weight down.
As many as seven million Brits are living with undiagnosed potential high blood pressure which increases the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. The findings also takes medics closer to a blood test that can find those at risk at a young age.
A third of the genes linked with high blood pressure have now been identified by science. Prof Mark Caulfield, of Queen Mary University, said: "This is the most major advance in blood pressure genetics yet. With this information we could calculate a person's genetic risk score for high-blood pressure in later life. Doctors could target early lifestyle interventions for those with a high genetic risk, such as losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and increasing exercise."
High blood pressure is also a risk factor for coronary artery disease and dementia. The Government's chief scientific advisor Prof Chris Whitty said: "This significant piece of research provides evidence that is likely to translate into preventative and curative measures for patients."