A new book highlighting the best of Australian health research in recent years, was launched today by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott.
The biggest ever study of the effects of blood pressure lowering medications on the major killers, stroke and heart attack, was included in the '10 of the Best' book, highlighting 10 world-leading medical research projects.
The George Institute for International Health established the Blood Pressure Lowering Treatment Trialists' Collaboration in 1995. The results of this collaboration are a cornerstone of blood pressure guidelines in Australia and around the world. Most notably, the project highlights the need for renewed efforts to achieve better blood pressure control.
The research, has also uncovered important differences in the effectiveness of different types of blood pressure lowering drugs. Most recently, the work of the collaboration has provided important insight into possible differences in the protection provided by two drug classes often considered interchangeable - ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers.
Principal investigator of the study, Dr Bruce Neal, Senior Director at The George Institute said, "This has been a huge research effort spanning over a decade. The results have had direct clinical implications for hundreds of millions of people with high blood pressure worldwide." He added that, "While we have identified differences between drug classes, the most important finding is that aggressive treatment to drive blood pressure down to really low levels provides the greatest protection. The number of drugs, not the choice of drugs, is more important for most people."
Worldwide, high blood pressure (or hypertension) is responsible for around 7 million deaths annually. With an estimated 600 million people having hypertension, this study makes a major contribution to our knowledge on how best to prevent the growing epidemic of death and disability from blood pressure related disease. Results of the study have been published in the Lancet on two occassions and include data from over 160,000 individuals in more than 50 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
The '10 of the best' booklet was written for the general public to demonstrate the benefits of medical research resulting from public investment.
Australia is a world leader in health and medical research - on a per capita basis, our research output is twice the OECD average. Medical research makes good health and economic sense. A report by Access Economics shows that for every $1 invested in medical research, $5 is returned to the Australian economy.