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Lowering blood pressure prevents cardiovascular events in people with kidney disease

Media release: 
21/10/2013

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 nine Australians has evidence of 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 in Australia and 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 in Australia and globally, and preventing unnecessary death and disability”, he said.  

The cost of treating cardiovascular disease has huge economic consequences, costing $5.9 billion  in health expenditure, 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. 

One in three Australians over 25 has high blood pressure, a key risk factor for chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke .

Fifty people die a day in Australia from kidney failure   and the incidence of kidney disease is escalating with the rise in obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Chronic kidney disease costs almost $900 million in direct health expenditure. Dialysis treatment alone, the most common reason for hospitalisation in Australia, accounts for two thirds of this cost .

To view the article published in the British Medical Journal click here

This research was supported by research grants from the NSW Cardiovascular Research Network and the National Health and Medical Research Council