The American Heart Association's 63rd High Blood Pressure Research Conference took place Sept. 23 to 26 in Chicago and attracted more than 700 professional attendees from around the world, including scientists, physicians and research scientists. The research addressed recent developments in the association between hypertension and stroke, cardiac disease, kidney function/renal diseases, obesity, and genetics.
"It's really a fundamental, research-based meeting," said program chair Rhian Touyz, M.D., of the Ottawa Health Research Institute at the University of Ottawa. "We addressed everything from molecules and experimental models to clinical hypertension."
"There was quite a lot of focus on new approaches -- especially non-invasive approaches -- to assess the vascular status of patients with hypertension," Touyz said.
Highlights included multiple studies showing the association between hypertension and obesity, diabetes, and other factors, such as fructose consumption, vitamin D deficiency, and C-reactive protein. "We have very effective treatments for high blood pressure, but nevertheless hypertension continues to be a major public health problem and in fact the prevalence is increasing worldwide," Touyz said. "This paradox probably relates to the fact that hypertension is associated with other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and diabetes."
Other studies addressed racial and ethnic disparities in reaching blood-pressure goals, and disparities in lifestyle advice offered to hypertensive smokers.
In one study, University of Southern California researchers assessed blood-pressure control in 517 patients with self-reported stroke and/or coronary artery disease. They found that optimal blood-pressure in such patients (140/90 mm/Hg in most patients, and 130/80 mm/Hg in diabetics) was achieved in 63 percent of Caucasians, but only in 58 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of African-Americans. They also found that medication use was especially low among Hispanics (52 percent for stroke survivors and 59 percent in those with coronary artery disease).
In a second study, researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Coral Gables, Fla., assessed data from the 2007 Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Florida Tobacco Callback Survey. Compared to non-hypertensive smokers, they found that hypertensive smokers were significantly less likely to receive advice to limit salt intake, increase exercise, and change their dietary habits.
New research presented at the conference suggested that venom from one of the world's most poisonous spiders -- Phoneutria nigriventer -- may prove to be an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. When researchers injected a purified form of the venom -- T×2-6 -- into rats and mice, they found that it increased levels of nitric oxide, which resulted in penile relaxation and erections.
In another new study, Italian researchers studied 21 normotensive volunteers who climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest. They found that high altitude was associated with a significant increase in blood pressure. Elevations in blood pressure were found proportional to altitude reached, with greater rise at night at the highest altitudes. Readings returned to baseline upon return to sea level. The researchers said their data may have implications not only for patients exposed to high-altitude hypoxia but also for the millions of patients with chronic hypoxia related to conditions such as sleep apnea.
"When moving to an even higher altitude, and thus further increasing the hypoxia above the levels often experienced in sleep apnea, the blockade of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system was no longer able to control the hypoxia-induced blood pressure increase," lead author Grzegorz Bilo, M.D., of the Istituto Auxologico Italiano and the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy said in a statement. "This suggests that other mechanisms were involved and could explain the blood pressure changes observed. Even though this is an artificial setting, the data we have collected will provide important insights into the physiological and molecular basis of hypoxia-induced hypertension."
AHA/HBP: CRP Linked to BP, Metabolic Syndrome
FRIDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- C-reactive protein (CRP) is not just a secondary marker of inflammatory disease but may be directly associated with hypertension and the metabolic syndrome, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's 63rd High Blood Pressure Research Conference, held from Sept. 23 to 26 in Chicago.
AHA/HBP: Low Vitamin D Connected to Hypertension
FRIDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women with low vitamin D levels may have a tripled risk of subsequently developing systolic hypertension, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's 63rd High Blood Pressure Research Conference, held from Sept. 23 to 26 in Chicago.
AHA/HBP: Fructose Linked to Hypertension, Metabolic Effect
THURSDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- In adult men, adverse blood pressure and metabolic effects of high fructose intake may be mitigated by the uric acid-lowering effects of allopurinol, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's 63rd High Blood Pressure Research Conference, held from Sept. 23 to 26 in Chicago.
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