The process begins in their 30s and 40s. It reduces aortic and arterial elasticity, which impairs cardiovascular functioning, resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality. The severity and extent of mineralization reflect atherosclerotic plaque burden and independently predict cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
The higher the pressure in blood vessels the harder the heart has to work in order to pump blood. If left uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to heart attack, enlargement of the heart and heart failure. Blood vessels may develop bulges (See Aneurysms) and weak spots due to high pressure, making them more likely to clog or burst. The pressure in the blood vessels can also cause blood to leak out into the brain. This can cause a stroke. Hypertension can also lead to kidney failure, blindness, rupture of blood vessels and cognitive impairment.
Globally, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 17 million deaths a year, nearly one third of the total. Of these, complications of hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year. Hypertension is responsible for at least 45% of deaths due to heart disease, and 51% of deaths due to stroke.
About 75 million American adults (29%) have high blood pressure—1 of every 3 adults, but only about half (54%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Nearly 1 of 3 American adults has prehypertension—blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the high blood pressure range. High blood pressure costs the US $46 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure, and missed days of work.
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in Europe, and is set to become an even greater burden on the continent's health systems. Approximately four million people in Europe and 1.9 million people in the EU die of cardiovascular disease each year, according to the European Society of Cardiology. Cardiovascular disease and strokes are usually caused by high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. The European Society for Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Network (EHN) estimate the cost to the EU economy at over €196 billion per year, with healthcare expenditure varying from 4% in Luxembourg to 17% in Estonia, Latvia and Poland.
Hardening of Arteries & Hypertension
The therapy reverses hardening of arteries in lab animals, restoring elasticity of blood vessels and allowing the body to control blood pressure again.
Previously considered passive and protective, vascular calcification or hardening of the arteries is now recognized as a pathobiological process. Most individuals aged >60 years have progressively enlarging deposits of calcium mineral in their arteries.
Currently, there is no curative treatment available for hypertension. Patients are urged to minimize risk factors such as unhealthy diet, high sodium intake, smoking, high BMI, or too little exercise by changing their diet and habits, which is most effective the earlier these lifestyle changes happen, at best even before the onset of clinical manifestations.
An array of medication is prescribed to patients to control blood pressure, with drug categories spanning Diuretics, Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, Calcium channel blockers, Alpha blockers, and Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators). However, these drugs only control the symptoms and have to be taken indefinitely and are no curative option.
The market for hypertension medication is dominated by systemic hypertension drugs, with almost 90% market share over pulmonary hypertension drugs, with a small number of established vendors. Key vendors are Novartis, Daiichi Sankyo, Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi, and Pfizer.
Due to patent expirations, the market is not growing and projected to decline with the emergence of generic competition. The market is nonetheless expected to exceed 27 billion USD by 2020, with companies heavily investigating new medications.