Hypertension is a chronic condition and a contributing risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease. According to the US National Library of Medicine, hypertension affects 76.4 million people in the United States.

Hypertension can be a difficult condition to treat successfully. The National Review of Nephrology notes that although a considerable number of drugs are available to treat hypertension, blood pressure control is only achieved in approximately 50% of patients. Among other reasons for poor blood pressure control, the inability to predict the appropriate drug for an individual patient is “a likely contributor”.

Trial and Error

Common treatment for hypertension consists of a combination of ABCD drugs (ACE Inhibitors, Beta Blockers, Calcium Channel Blockers, and Diuretics) and has been successful in many cases, yet research published in the Journal of Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacoproteomics discovered a 61% error rate when prescribing this way. Additional studies report normalization in just 30% to 60% of cases.

Hypertension and PGx

Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine

Pharmacogenomic testing looks at the genes that metabolize many of the medications we take, and can often predict response in an individual. Many of the medications that are often used to treat hypertension are metabolized by the genes that are studied. (Note that some medications are not metabolized, but are eliminated unchanged.)

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that Pharmacogenomic testing will improve patient trust in the medication that has been prescribed for them. Confidence in the safety and efficacy of a drug, stemming from knowledge that the drug and dose are personalized to the patient, will lead to a greater likelihood that patients will adhere to a treatment plan.

Patient Adherence

Patients have varied reasons for poor adherence to prescribed therapies, but their failure to take their medications as prescribed has been identified by the WHO as “the primary cause of unsatisfactory control of blood pressure”. Anxiety about a possible adverse event and distrust of medications have been cited by patients as some of the reasons that they do not follow advice.