Hypertension Research

Hypertension Research

We are seeing a marked increase in the prevalence of hypertension in New Zealand.

One critical area of research is hypertension. Hypertension is thought to affect more than half the adults in the world. It contributes to 49% of all coronary heart disease and 62% of all strokes. Because it is often asymptomatic, it frequently goes undiagnosed or is only diagnosed once it has progressed to a more serious cardiac disease. Even when patients are diagnosed with hypertension, less than 50% have adequate control over their blood pressure. The prevalence of hypertension, problems with delayed diagnosis and a need for more effective treatments mean that hypertension research is a critical area for Manaaki Manawa.

Risk factors for hypertension include family history, obesity, weight gain, lack of exercise, high dietary sodium, alcohol consumption and psychological stress. Although generally asymptomatic, hypertension manifests through damage to target organs, particularly the heart, kidneys and brain, and to peripheral arteries. Treatment aims to reduce the blood pressure through lifestyle and dietary change, medication and, more recently, renal artery denervation.

Research has shown that hypertension disproportionately affects Māori and Pacific populations with 1.3- and 1.4-times higher likelihood respectively of requiring medication to manage HTN. It also disproportionately affects individuals from areas of high deprivation with a 1.4-times higher chance of requiring intervention for HTN. Finding ways to better prevent, diagnose and manage treatment for hypertension is therefore also an equity issue, which is a priority for the Centre.

We are seeing a marked increase in the prevalence of hypertension in New Zealand.

The pandemic has simultaneously made people more sedentary by restricting movement and caused psychological stress, which has led many to unhealthy lifestyle choices. We are seeing hypertension in younger patients, even school age children, which is very concerning. We therefore regard community outreach and education as a very necessary part of our hypertension project.
We are developing a programme for school age children that would include education around heart health, lifestyle choices and managing stress. The programme also includes an interactive blood pressure model that demonstrates what blood pressure is and why it is important. We see this as a natural fit and extension of your valuable ‘Breathe, Pause, Smile’ programme by talking about how psychological stress can manifest itself physically and the importance of holistic wellbeing.
Considering the scale of the incidence of hypertension, it is surprising that until very recently there was no specialised hypertension clinic in Auckland. This is very unusual for a city of our size and with the issues we face. Manaaki Manawa has now established a hypertension clinic and brought together experts in the field to work in collaboration to enhance this area of research.

Links to Articles and related media

Here are some work that our researchers are involved in

A consensus statement on the use of angiotensin receptor blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors in relation to COVID-19 (corona virus disease 2019)

By: Hari Talreja, Jasmine Tan, Matt Dawes, Sharen Supershad, Kannaiyan Rabindranath, James Fisher, Sajed Valappil, Veronica van der Merwe, Lisa Wong, Walter van der Merwe, Julian Paton

The “low down” on hypertension

By: Dr Jasmine Tan
Endocrinologist and Nephrologist, Auckland and Counties DHBs, Te Whatu Ora