Preventing and treating high blood pressure

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St Mary’s Medical School, Room G64, St Mary’s Hospital Praed St, Paddington, London W2 1NY

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At the next Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) seminar, an expert from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will pair up with an academic from Imperial College London to talk about their latest work on how to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at the College, will talk about the challenges of developing an effective population-wide strategy to stem the rise in blood pressure with age, and to reduce overall blood pressure levels. These strategies are aimed are reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

High blood pressure - known as hypertension - affects more than one in four adults in the UK, and increases the risk of a number conditions including heart attacks and stroke. It is thought to have a number of causes, including age, being overweight and eating too much salt.

Current recommendations emphasise reducing salt intake and increasing potassium intake, as well as avoiding or correcting excess alcohol and calorie consumption. These guidelines also recommend adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and low-fat diary products. These dietary approaches to stopping hypertension have been shown to contribute significantly to reducing blood pressure. However, Professor Elliott’s research suggests they do not counteract the adverse influence of salt intake.

Professor Elliott will also discuss how lifestyle modification is therefore recommended in hypertension management, and included within prevention guidelines.

Professor Neil Poulter, Honorary Consultant Physician and Epidemiologist at the Trust, will talk about his work to link salt intake with the origins of raised blood pressure in a study from rural Africa.

Raised blood pressure is the biggest single contributor to the burden of disease and death around the world, leading to about 10.4 million deaths each year.

Despite the fact that it is easy to measure blood pressure, less than half of those with hypertension know they have it and as result only a minority get their blood pressure controlled to current targets.

Consequently, as President of the International Society of Hypertension, Professor Poulter set up a global screening campaign called ‘May Measurement Month’ in 2017 and 2018 to raise awareness of the importance of raised blood pressure. Over 2.7 million people were screened in more than 100 countries, with over half a million people found to have raised blood pressure.

Professor Poulter will also address current controversies regarding which combinations of drugs to use to lower blood pressure, as well as the differences between recent American and European guidelines on key issues, including the definition of hypertension.

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St Mary’s Medical School, Room G64, St Mary’s Hospital Praed St, Paddington, London W2 1NY

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