Lowering blood pressure offers hope to people with kidney disease

Lowering blood pressure is a highly effective and affordable way to prevent cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke among people with chronic kidney disease, according to a new study published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

One in ten people globally is affected by kidney disease with many unaware of the problem, which puts them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease as well as kidney failure.

The study also showed that there is little evidence that one type of blood pressure lowering drug is better than another in protecting against the risk of a cardiovascular event, making the treatment viable for high and low income settings, and simplifying decision making for doctors.

According to lead author, Professor Vlado Perkovic of The George Institute for Global Health and The University of Sydney, the findings are a promising step forward in the fight against cardiovascular disease, the number one killer around the world.

“The findings highlight the key role blood pressure lowering has to play in preventing cardiovascular events among people with kidney disease who are already at high risk of having a heart attack or developing other forms of the disease,” Professor Perkovic said.

“The study findings if implemented will help address the escalating burden of chronic diseases like cardiovascular and kidney diseases, stroke and diabetes globally, and preventing unnecessary death and disability”, he said.  

The cost of treating kidney disease and cardiovascular disease has huge economic consequences in health expenditure in low, middle and rich income countries, so any step taken to reduce the risk in the first place is a priority, according to Professor Perkovic.

“Blood pressure lowering as a treatment is simple, safe, easy to put into practice, and affordable, which makes these findings particularly relevant and immediately translatable into practice” he said.

“There is little evidence that any particular type of blood pressure lowering drug provides greater or lesser protection against the risk of a cardiovascular event, so even many very cheap older blood pressure lowering drugs are effective, “ Professor Perkovic said.

Up to 10% of the adult population has some form of kidney damage   with millions of people dying every year prematurely due to complications from the disease.

The prevalence of the chronic kidney disease is increasing in response to the epidemic proportions of diabetes and high blood pressure around the world, both major risk factors for chronic kidney disease One in three people worldwide has high blood pressure and one in 10 adults has diabetes .

Chronic kidney disease is not curable, and if not detected can lead to the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant, both extremely costly treatments that are not affordable for the majority of patients in middle to low income countries resulting in many premature deaths from untreated kidney failure.   

Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death and disability around the world. By 2030, it is estimated that these diseases will claim 50 million lives a year with the global economic burden estimated to reach US $13 trillion by 2030 .

To view the article visit the British Medical Journal.