A breakthrough by British scientists could pave the way for more effective blood pressure drugs.
Experts have discovered how the body regulates blood pressure – giving them a way to replicate it with medication.
They found the condition is naturally reduced when nerves which surround the arteries release nitric oxide.
Scientists last night said the discovery marks a ‘fundamental change’ in the way they view blood pressure. Previously, experts thought it was regulated by the blood vessel walls themselves, rather than the bundle of nerves surrounding them.
The breakthrough also offers a clue about the role stress and emotion play in the condition, because these nerves have a direct link to the brain.
High blood pressure – known as ‘hypertension’ – affects one in three adults, more than 17million of the British population.
The condition vastly increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia, but because it has no symptoms until it is too late, only half of those with the condition know they are at risk.