News

Doctors find new way to control blood pressure


10 March 2010

The control of blood pressure is central to people's wellbeing. One in three Australians suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), a condition which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.

Low blood pressure (hypotension), in comparison, is most commonly harmless. But when it is a side effect of life threatening diseases like malaria and sepsis blood infection, it can lead to death. If a person's blood pressure falls too far the organs of the body cannot function properly, and in this case low blood pressure can be life threatening.

In a scientific breakthrough, a recent study headed by Professor Roland Stocker from the University of Sydney's Bosch Institute and Sydney Medical School has discovered a new way to control blood pressure. Professor Stocker and a team of 15 other scientists in Australia, Germany and the US have discovered the existence of a new regulatory pathway in the blood vessels which affects blood pressure, and they have have unlocked the secret of how it works.

"Excitingly, the new pathway is particularly effective in conditions where presently known pathways fail," Professor Stocker explained.

This discovery is significant because it potentially opens up a whole new method of treating blood pressure conditions. By manipulating the operation of this regulatory pathway, doctors may in the future be able to save lives by using novel drugs to control the relaxation of blood vessels in those suffering from severe infections and disease.

"Our discovery is likely relevant to human sepsis where blood pressure control remains a major problem," said the Professor.

The study, published in the March issue of the Nature Medicine journal, received funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council and the Heart Foundation of Australia.

Media inquiries: Stephanie Whitelock tel (02) 9351 2261 or 0421 598 678 or stephanie.whitelock@sydney.edu.au