A new study has shown that a 10-minute scan can detect and treat the most common cause of high blood pressure.
Doctors from Queen Mary University of London, St Bartholomew’s Hospital London and Cambridge University Hospital have used a new type of CT scan to illuminate tiny nodules in a hormonal gland and treat high blood pressure by removing them.
Scientists say the nodules glow shortly after injection and highlight the obvious cause of the condition.
According to a study, one out of every 20 people with high blood pressure has these nodules (hard, raised areas on or under the skin).
The researchers say their results solve a 60-year-old problem of detecting growth hormone without complicated catheterization, which is only available in a few hospitals and often fails.
Maurice Brown, co-author of the study and professor of endocrinology of hypertension at Queen Mary University of London, said: “These aldosterone-secreting nodes are very small and easy to miss on conventional CT. a few minutes after the injection, they are detected. “As an obvious cause of high blood pressure, which is often treatable. And yet, 99% are never diagnosed because testing is difficult and unavailable. We hope that this will change.”
About 128 people took part in the new survey after doctors discovered their high blood pressure was caused by the steroid hormone aldosterone.
Scans showed that in two-thirds of patients with elevated hormone levels, it was due to a benign nodule in only one of their adrenal glands, which could then be safely removed.
New research from Queen Mary performed a ten-minute scan that allows you to detect and cure of the most common cause of high blood pressure. More information: https://t.co/ajWjIeFewf
— Queen Mary University of London (@QMUL) January 16, 2023
The test uses a short-term dose of a radioactive dye that only sticks to the hormone-producing node.
The researchers say the test was as accurate as the old catheter test, yet fast, painless, and technically successful for every patient.
Until now, catheter testing has not predicted which patients will be completely cured of high blood pressure by surgical removal of the gland.
However, the combination of the new scan and urinalysis for steroids identified 18 of 24 patients whose blood pressure returned to normal without taking their prescribed medication.
The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, was conducted on patients at Barts, Cambridge University, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals, as well as the Universities of Glasgow and Birmingham.
A previous study by a team at Queen Mary University found that 5-10% of people with high blood pressure have a genetic mutation in their adrenal glands that causes them to produce excess amounts of the steroid hormone aldosterone.
Aldosterone causes salt retention in the body, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. Patients with excessive levels of aldosterone in the blood are resistant to treatment with commonly used drugs for high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.