Date: 18 May 2018
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is extremely common and is the major cause of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. A healthy lifestyle alone is often not enough to control it and one in three of the UK population will require treatment for it at some point in their lives. However, a new study led by Cambridge University Hospitals aims to help patients with the condition, and a local accountant is just one of those benefitting.
Despite being generally fit and healthy, Louise Luke, 56, an accountant from Cambridge was diagnosed with hypertension after a routine health check showed that her blood pressure was significantly higher than average. She said, “I don't smoke, I do lots of exercise and eat fruit and veg, there was no family history and no rational reason why I would have a high blood pressure but I’m no different to millions of other people.”
While at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) one day, Louise got talking to a member of the research team who noticed she was wearing a blood pressure cuff which was helping to monitor her levels. The researcher told her about the AIM HY INFORM clinical trial taking place at the Trust which is investigating whether different hypertension treatments are better for different ethnic groups.
The study team are calling for black African/Caribbean, South Asian and white European participants with hypertension to try to define the best drug or drug combinations according to the three ethnic groups in the UK. The study will also help researchers to understand what sort of treatments and preventive measures are best for people of these different ethnicities.
Louise, who is originally from Edinburgh but moved to Cambridge around 20 years ago, was offered a place on the trial. After discussing it with her GP she decided to go ahead with taking part. Once enrolled, the trial involved Louise being assessed with her blood pressure taken and a blood test carried out. She was then prescribed one of 3 randomised treatments. After trialling that particular drug for period of time, Louise has been given the chance to try the other 2 options over similar durations. Louise said:
“I’m getting completely checked out and what’s great is that my blood pressure has come right down. I know from other people who have high blood pressure that it’s difficult to find the right drug, but I’ve not had a problem because by taking part I am able to test 3 different ones to see which is most appropriate for me. For me personally the benefits are huge.”
Louise is extremely grateful to the research team for giving her the opportunity to take part in clinical research. She said, “I feel privileged to be part of it and to be able to help because I think it’s important. If you do this you can help not just the next generation but also your peers so why not? It’s your health.”
Professor Ian Wilkinson, who is leading the study at CUH commented on the importance of participants like Louise being involved, saying, “The only way we can find better treatments and care for patients is through research but this can’t be delivered without the involvement of people like Louise who give their time, effort and trust to help the endeavour. With their input, we hope to find the best treatment for those with hypertension according to their ethnic group. However, we need more people from the black and Asian communities to take part so if that’s you, and you have hypertension, why not get involved?”
AIM HY-INFORM (ComparIsoN oF Optimum Hypertension RegiMens (part of the Ancestry Informative Markers in Hypertension (AIM HY) Programme)) is just one of many studies supported by the NIHR. If you would like to find out if you could be eligible to join the AIM HY INFORM clinical trial visit http://www.aimhy.org.uk/patients/ and complete the online form.
May marks the launch of NHS70 and the NIHR's annual I Am Research campaign which celebrates the involvement of participants like Louise in clinical research. The campaign will celebrate how research has improved health and care over the past 70 years and invite people to help shape the next 70 years of NHS research. For more information about I Am Research visit www.nihr.ac.uk/news-and-events/support-our-campaigns/i-am-research/.
For more information about other research happening across health and social care, visit the NIHR website at www.nihr.ac.uk
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