Twice-a-year jab to replace daily blood pressure pills

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Scientists are testing the safety and effectiveness of this procedure of combating the condition known as hypertension, which raises the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Some 100 British patients will be among the 630 worldwide involved in the three-year trial, led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Barts Health NHS Trust.

The study, being funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, will run for three years.

Dr Manish Saxena, study lead and deputy clinical director at QMUL, claimed that if this “first-of-its-kind” trial is successful, it will have a huge impact on patient care.

He said: “Solving health challenges on this scale cannot be achieved by one person or entity alone. We are thrilled to be working along- side Alnylam and combining our expertise to hopefully change modern medicine.”

Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, but many do not know it due to the lack of noticeable symptoms, the NHS has said.

Most people develop hypertension because of their diet or their lifestyle, or as a result of a medical condition.

Meanwhile, over-60s have been warned by experts not to take aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says the risk of internal bleeding far outweigh any potential benefits for this age group.

It advises that only older patients who have had a heart attack or stroke in the past keep taking pills – and they should stick to a daily low-dose or socalled “baby” pills.

Dr Karina Davidson, of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, New York, said: “The decision to initiate low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD in adults aged 40 to 59 years who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk should be an individual one. The risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, intracranial haemorrhage and haemorrhagic stroke, with or without aspirin use, increases with age.

“Other risk factors include male sex, diabetes, history of gastrointestinal issues, liver disease, smoking, and elevated blood pressure.

“These risk factors should be considered in the overall decision about whether to start or continue aspirin therapy.”

Aspirin is also a blood thinner which can stave off blood clots. But its use carries risks – primarily bleeding in the digestive tract or ulcers, both of which can be life-threatening.

The USPSTF also concluded that it is unclear whether the drug reduces bowel cancer cases or deaths.

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