- Research led by scientists at the University of Birmingham has revealed a new cause of high blood pressure which could lead to major changes in managing the disease.
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often goes unnoticed but if left untreated can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Studies estimate that one in four adults suffer from hypertension, but most patients have no identifiable cause for the condition.
- However, it is known that in up to 10 per cent of hypertensive patients the overproduction of the adrenal hormone aldosterone — a condition known as primary aldosteronism or Conn syndrome — is the cause of disease.
- Now the University of Birmingham-led study has, for the first time, made the important discovery that a large number of patients with Conn syndrome do not only overproduce aldosterone but also the stress hormone cortisol.
- At present, many Conn syndrome patients are treated with drugs that are directed against the adverse effects of aldosterone. However, this leaves the cortisol excess untreated.