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Changi General Hospital has made testing for curable forms of high blood pressure more accessible and quicker for Singaporeans by using cutting-edge analytical techniques.

Japanese medical device manufacturer Shimadzu’s clinical laboratory, Shimadzu-CGH Clinomics Center (SC3), recently began offering tests for the identification of primary aldosteronism and salt-sensitive hypertension based on liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry and AI. According to a press release, this combination of analytical techniques provides greater analytical specificity and sensitivity, as well as the ability to precisely measure hormone levels (particularly aldosterone and renin) in a patient’s blood sample.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

One in three adults in Singapore are affected by high blood pressure or high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest health survey.

About 5% of them suffer from the most common but least known curable form of hypertension, primary aldosteronism. Despite the higher prevalence, many patients with the condition are not screened or treated, CGH notes.

In addition, about nine out of 10 Singaporeans now consume more salt than recommended in their diet, increasing the risk of high blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals.

Therefore, identification is crucial to begin treating these curable forms of hypertension and ultimately stop the rise in these cases, CGH emphasized.

Before SC3 was founded in 2021, tests for curable hypertension were carried out abroad, “with results often taking several weeks to obtain,” CGH said. With clinical testing for primary aldosteronism now available at SC3, turnaround time has been reduced to three to five days, allowing more patients to be quickly screened for and cured of treatable forms of hypertension.

Since the service launched in February this year, over 1,000 clinical tests have been carried out at SC3.

Dr. Daryl Hee, CGH senior manager and head of SC3, revealed his plan to forge more partnerships with public and private hospitals across Singapore to reach the wider population. In addition, SC3, acting as a regional reference center, also develops mass spectrometry solutions for the diagnosis of other chronic diseases in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

THE BIGGER TREND

High blood pressure remains a largely incurable disease. However, there are treatments to control blood pressure. Digital therapeutics are a treatment innovation that has emerged in recent years.

One player in this space, the Japanese company CureApp, has developed one regulatory approval from the Japanese governmentwhich was said to be the world’s first DTx for hypertension.

ON THE RECORD

“Some of my patients lived with hypertension for many years before finally undergoing aldosterone and renin testing and being diagnosed with primary aldosteronism. With access to these clinical tests at SC3 in Singapore, physicians can now obtain accurate and rapid test results for our patients,” said Troy Puar, clinical assistant professor and senior consultant in the Department of Endocrinology at CGH.

“Hopefully this will lead to more patients being screened and treated for this curable form of hypertension,” added A/Prof. Puar, who is also the principal investigator at SC3.

Khoo Keow Pin, 66, is one of the patients recently treated for curable high blood pressure. For the past 15 years he has been living with hypertension without knowing that he had the primary type of aldosteronism. He had his first consultation at CGH in June and was later given his official diagnosis for the condition following tests at SC3. Last month, he underwent adrenalectomy surgery to remove his affected adrenal gland. For the first time in several years, his blood pressure normalized and stabilized.

“Thanks to the rapid and detailed examinations carried out at SC3, doctors were able to make an accurate diagnosis of my type of hypertension – primary aldosteronism – allowing me to seek treatment at CGH and improve my condition,” said Khoo.