Join Clinical Trials for High Blood Pressure
The term “blood pressure” refers to the amount of blood that your heart pumps and the amount of resistance it receives from your arteries. The higher your blood pressure, the more likely it is to cause health problems, including heart disease.
Normal blood pressure is considered anything under 120/80 mm Hg, with 120 referring to the systolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and 80 referring to the diastolic pressure (the pressure in your arteries between heart beats).
A condition known as pre-hypertension is indicated by a blood pressure reading that falls between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg.
Mild (or stage 1) hypertension is characterized by a reading that ranges from 140/90 to 159/99 mm Hg.
Severe (stage 2) hypertension is any reading that measures 160/100 mm Hg or greater.
Typically, high blood pressure is diagnosed by taking two or three readings at two or more separate doctor’s office visits, in order to account for normal variations in blood pressure that occur throughout and between days.
One in every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, and many more have it but are not aware that they do. Unfortunately, high blood pressure can exist for years before symptoms present themselves, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The good news is that high blood pressure can be diagnosed rather easily and there are a number of options available that can successfully help people lower and control their blood pressure.
In light of the high prevalence of high blood pressure, as well as its severe consequences if left untreated, considerable research is underway to develop more sensitive methods to detect body system damage due to high blood pressure, discover better ways to treat and control it, and gain an overall better understanding of how and why high blood pressure affects certain groups of individuals more often than others.
What Will Clinical Trials for High Blood Pressure Be Like?
The types of tests and assessments used in clinical trials for high blood pressure will ultimately depend on the specific nature of the study and if other conditions, such as certain types of cardiovascular disease, are also being studied. Provided below is a list of frequent procedures and tests used to evaluate the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, many of which may be incorporated for use in clinical trials for high blood pressure:
- Physical exam
- Blood pressure evaluation (using an inflatable blood pressure cuff and pressure gauge).
- Detailed family history of heart diseases and cardiovascular disease.
- Genetic testing
- Blood tests to evaluate the effectiveness or chemical properties of a medication, if you are participating in a clinical trial that is investigating the use of a new drug.
- If the study is evaluating aspects related to a particular type of heart disease, the following tests and procedures may also be utilized:
- Cardiac catheterization: a procedure during which a long, thin, and flexible tube (i.e., catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm, upper thigh, or neck and threaded through until it reaches your heart. This allows doctors to perform diagnostic tests and treatments, as well as to evaluate blockages in the blood vessels.
- Computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: these are non-invasive imaging procedures, similar to an x-ray, that allow doctors to take detailed pictures of your heart.
- Coronary angiography: a procedure during which a dye is injected into a vein in your arm and then viewed using a special x-ray machine, CT scanner, or MRI machine.
- Echocardiography (“echo”): a painless procedure that uses ultrasound to create moving pictures of your heart, which allow doctors to see its size, shape, and how well it is working.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG, or ECG): a straightforward and painless procedure that records the electrical activity of the heart.
- Stress test: a test performed while you exercise (usually by walking or running on a treadmill, or pedaling a stationary bicycle), which allows doctors to evaluate how your heart works during episodes of physical stress.
- Pain and quality of life assessments, as well as diet, exercise and/or medication diaries, may also be required in some studies, depending on the research question being studied.
Typical High Blood Pressure Clinical Trial Protocol:
Specific examples of clinical trials for high blood pressure might include the following:
- A randomized clinical trial to determine if patients with high blood pressure who use made-for-home blood pressure monitoring devices are more likely to take their blood pressure medications as prescribed than patients with high blood pressure who do not use such devices.
- A clinical trial to determine if a specific combination of genetic mutations commonly found in individuals with coronary heart disease are present in a random sample of patients with high blood pressure but who have no evidence of other heart disease.
- A randomized clinical trial to determine if standard treatment plus a newly developed drug is more effective at reducing and controlling stage 2 hypertension than standard treatment plus a placebo.
- A long-term clinical trial to determine if lowering the systolic blood pressure of individuals with pre-hypertension, stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension is effective at preventing heart disease, as well as reducing the rate of memory loss and subsequent dementia due to increasing age and blood pressure.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo (such as the third clinical trial example given above). Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug or therapy is being investigated, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
It is important to know that placebo-only trials are only conducted when scientifically necessary and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment.
It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular disease or condition.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you may want to have on hand include:
- Your specific diagnosis of high blood pressure (pre-hypertension, stage 1 or stage 2).
- Your prior history of heart disease.
- Your family history of heart disease.
- Your prior history of treatment for high blood pressure and/or heart disease (including any surgeries, procedures, and medications).
- Your current medications (including aspirin), vitamins, and dietary supplements.
- Your most recent blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride (i.e., lipid) levels.
Suggested Search Terms:
Once you are ready to begin your search for high blood pressure clinical trials, the following terms may be helpful when combined with either “high blood pressure” or “hypertension”: “management,” “treatment,” “prevention,” “genetics,” “family history,” “pediatric,” “pulmonary,” “pregnancy,” “risk factors,” “obesity,” “diabetes,” and “heart disease.”
Current Search Term:
“High Blood Pressure”