ISLAMABAD: A drug that costs £1.50 a month and has been around for 50 years could revolutionise the care of patients with persistent high blood pressure.
 
Spironolactone was first used in 1959 as a water pill to treat fluid retention - but new findings show it also works in three out of five patients whose blood pressure is out of control.
 
Experts today said the finding offered hope of ‘spectacular’ cost savings.
 
An estimated 500,000 people have high blood pressure that does not respond to at least three types of medication, known as resistant hypertension.
 
The drug spironolactone was first used in 1959 as a water pill to treat fluid retention - but new findings show it also works in three out of five patients whose blood pressure is out of control
 
People with high blood pressure are advised to change their lifestyle and eat less salt, lose weight, drink less alcohol, eat more fruit and vegetables and exercise more.
 
But six million Britons also take drugs to reduce their blood pressure, which raises the risk of early death, heart attacks and strokes.
 
The new study involved 335 patients who had uncontrolled blood pressure despite treatment with the maximum doses of three antihypertensive medicines.
 
The results show that 60 per cent of patients had their blood pressure controlled for the first time.
 
Spironolactone was three times more likely to work, when added to three existing pills, than two other types of drug added to the mix.
 
Findings from the study, funded by the British Heart Foundation charity, were released at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in London.