Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Heart Disease, PLoS / 19.10.2017 Interview with: Professor Kazem Rahimi, FRCP MD DM MSc FES Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health UK Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Mitral regurgitation, the most common heart valve disorder in high-income countries, has until now been considered a degenerative disorder, which results from damage over time due to ‘wear and tear’. As a result, the focus of medical practitioners has been on treating the disorder – by repairing or replacing the valve – rather than preventing it. This is partly because there has been a lack of large-scale, longitudinal studies investigating the effect of risk factors on the condition. We set out to analyse data on 5.5 million patients in the UK over 10 years. Our findings show, for the first time, that elevated blood pressure is an important risk factor for mitral regurgitation. Consistent with prior evidence on blood pressure associations with other cardiovascular disease - such as stroke and heart attacks – we found an association with mitral regurgitation that is continuous across the whole spectrum of blood pressure. More specifically, every 20 mmHg higher baseline systolic blood pressure is associated with a 26% increased risk of mitral regurgitation, with no threshold below or above which this relationship is not true. The association we found was only partially mediated by conditions that are established causes of secondary mitral regurgitation, which suggests that high blood pressure has a direct and independent effect on valve degeneration. (more…)