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India likely to undergo trials for hypertension drugs

Hypertension is the most important cause of premature deaths, killing 9.4 million people each year globally

health Updated: May 01, 2017 19:11 IST
Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke.
Uncontrolled blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke.(Shutterstock)

New Delhi: Hypertension is not curable but it can be controlled and treated with medicines. However, the medicines commonly prescribed for hypertensionhave not undergone trials on the indigenous population.

“We don’t know the best combination of drugs to prescribe for south Asians, Africans or even Chinese as we don’t have enough evidence to back the drug efficacy. Main trials have happened in the Western countries,” says Professor Neil Poulter, president, International Society for Hypertension (ISH).

Professor Poulter is in India to launch a month-long blood pressure screening that will be conducted simultaneously in close to 100 countries.

“We have recently started a trial in Africa with a few common medicines but it will at least take a couple of years for the results to show,” says Poulter.

Trials in India and China are also in the pipeline.

“We are in the process of arranging funds and should be able to get the trials going in India by the end of this year, after which we will move to China hopefully by next year for the trials,” says Poulter.

Dr K Srinath Reddy, founder, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) also agrees that Indians are treated on the basis of indirect evidence.

“It’s not clear how well the first line for drugs for high blood pressure such as beta blockers work in any other population group. Indians, in particular, have low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, either diabetic or tendency to diabetes, low muscle mass and high body, and to put the available first line in such a population could be counter-productive.”

Hypertension is one of the silent killers, and most important cause of premature deaths. Of all the people who die of hypertension each year globally, 2.6 lakh are from India. Hypertension leads to 10.8% of all deaths in India.

“Making lifestyle changes and regular screening for high blood pressure (at least once a year) is the key to avoiding damage,” says Poulter.