The Fate of Blood Vessels in Hypertension, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes
Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 30 percent of adult North Americans. In Canada, it is the most frequent reason people consult their family doctors. Hypertension is also the leading cause of death and disease, including heart attacks and heart failure, according to statistics prepared by the World Health Organization.
A state of high normal blood pressure or "prehypertension" is not only very common (occurring in up to 60 percent of adults), but is also associated with increased hospitalizations, admission to chronic care facilities, and mortality. Fifty percent of middle-aged, overweight or obese individuals with prehypertension go on to develop hypertension.
Most patients with hypertension (95 percent) have what's called "essential" or primary hypertension, that is, elevated blood pressure with no known cause. One in five people with hypertensions also suffer from diabetes, and those with type 2 diabetes (the vast majority of diabetics) are hypertensive. In fact, diabetes is a vascular disease and controlling blood pressure has had much greater effect on the health of diabetics than controlling sugar levels.
All this information makes it clear that we need to establish the mechanisms of vascular disease and blood pressure elevation in essential hypertension, and to develop new therapeutic agents to control blood pressure elevation and associated diseases.
Happily, Canada Research Chair Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin is working on the problem. He studies the characteristics of blood vessels in patients with hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes as well as in models of these conditions in mice and rats. His research program is designed to include translational and multidisciplinary research on the vasculature of these patients.
His investigation into the processes that cause blood pressure elevation and consequently affect the heart, brain, and kidneys, will help to prevent their occurrence and go a long way toward improving the lives of those who are hypertensive, obese, and/or diabetic.