Some patients with high blood pressure can't get it under control with standard medications, but a new study shows an experimental drug is up to the task of treating these tough-to-treat cases.
Why do some folks struggle more with managing their high blood pressure than others? When the hypertension is caused by the hormone aldosterone, which is responsible for how much salt the body retains, it is much harder to control, researchers explained.
Enter the drug baxdrostat, which blocks an enzyme required to produce aldosterone.
In the study, scientists worked with 274 participants, who were given one of three doses of the drug or a placebo along with their existing medications.
Patients in the trial had blood pressure that was at least 130/80 mm Hg, even though they were taking at least three different blood pressure medications.
High blood pressure is anything 130/80 or higher, while 120/80 is considered normal. When the upper number is 120-129, blood pressure is considered elevated.
Researchers found that patients who were assigned to the highest dose of the new medication saw the top number drop by a full 20 points.
The study even saw placebo patients lose 11 points off their top number, known as systolic blood pressure.
"The likelihood always is that people were not taking every tablet every day that they were meant to be," study co-author Dr. Morris Brown, a professor of endocrine hypertension at Queen Mary University of London, told NBC News. "But when they come into a study, they start taking their [standard] tablets more religiously."
About 20% to 30% of American adults have high blood pressure, with about 5% to 10% of that group having uncontrolled hypertension. These individuals are at higher risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The findings were presented Monday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Chicago, and were published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on high blood pressure.
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