Third Sector
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New test detects curable cause of high blood pressure

A new test developed through BHF-funded research could help some patients with high blood pressure, also called hypertension.

A team led by Professor Morris Brown at the University of Cambridge have developed the test, which uses a 'PET-CT' scan to detect a condition called Conn's adenoma. The condition is thought to be the underlying cause of raised blood pressure in around one in 20 people with hypertension.

Patients with Conn's adenoma have a small growth - about the size of a five pence coin - in one of their adrenal glands (which sit next to the kidneys). The growth disrupts the production of aldosterone, a hormone involved in regulating blood pressure

Dr Shannon Amoils, our Research Advisor, said: “Conn’s syndrome is the most common curable cause of high blood pressure. And although it affects only a small fraction of people with hypertension, it’s almost certainly more widespread than we previously thought. There are drugs that can control the high blood pressure caused by Conn’s syndrome, but the only cure is surgery, so making the diagnosis is very important.

"This new approach, using a PET-CT scan, offers real hope that more people with Conn’s syndrome will be accurately diagnosed in the future.”

The study was funded by the BHF and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the research funding arm of the NHS. It was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.