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Fighting heart issues

NHS treatment of hypertension could be set for a sea change after a new Anglo-Swedish study reported the risk of stroke and heart attacks in people with high blood pressure could be halved

NHS treatment of hypertension could be set for a sea change after a new Anglo-Swedish study reported the risk of stroke and heart attacks in people with high blood pressure could be halved by combining new treatments such as Pfizer's Istin with cholesterol lowering statins.

The study, presented at a European Society of Cardiology meeting in Stockholm found that taking a combination of the antihypertensives Istin (amlodipine) and perindopril (made by France's Servier and branded as Aceon) reduced the risk of stroke by about 25 per cent, cardiovascular deaths by 25 per cent and new cases of diabetes by 30 per cent, compared with the standard treatment.

Peter Sever of the International Centre for Circulatory Health at Imperial College, London said the trial patients had high blood pressure plus three additional risk factors, such as being 55, male and a smoker.

The addition of Pfizer's statin Lipitor found the risk was further reduced, irrespective of the patient's original cholesterol level.

With 9,000 of the study's patients being British, it is likely to have major implications for the treatment of hypertension by the NHS. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which advises the NHS on new treatments is due to meet with the British Hypertension Society to discuss changing current guidelines.

The anti-hypertensives were compared with the traditional treatment of a beta-blocker and a diuretic.

30th September 2008

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