Finding a cause of high blood pressure

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

After watching her father struggle with hypertension (high blood pressure) for decades, endocrinologist Dr Jun Yang found he had a hormonal condition called primary aldosteronism (PA).

Dr Jun Yang discovered that her father, Lisheng Yang's high blood pressure was a hormonal condition called primary aldosteronism.
L–R: Dr Jun Yang, Lisheng Yang

PA affects one in 10 patients with high blood pressure, but less than one in 100 patients know they have the disease as it is often misdiagnosed as conventional hypertension. Patients can have PA for decades without knowing the cause, missing the right therapy and suffering preventable heart disease or stroke.

Earlier PA testing as a cause of high blood pressure

Collaborating with the University of Western Australia, University of Queensland and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute to access large databases, Dr Yang’s team found a strong relationship between aldosterone levels and high blood pressure from a young age. This research has generated evidence to support earlier testing for aldosterone excess as a cause of high blood pressure so that the underlying condition can be accurately diagnosed and treated to prevent future heart disease.

Since Dr Yang established PA treatment protocol in 2010 and the Endocrine Hypertension Service at Monash Health in 2016, PA diagnoses have increased 40-fold, from two to three cases per year prior to 2010 to over 90 cases in 2020. In addition to her research and clinic, Dr Yang is improving clinician awareness so that patients like her father are diagnosed and treated much sooner.

Collaborators | Baker IDI; Barwon Health; Monash University; University of Queensland; University of Western Australia

Funders | Heart Foundation; Rebecca Cooper Foundation

Publication | Hypertension, June 2021

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