UPDATE 1-US approves Novartis blood pressure combo drug

* FDA approves Tekturna combination pill

* High blood pressure affects some 1 bln people globally

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ZURICH, July 21 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have approved Novartis AG's NOVN.VX Tekturna HCT combination as an initial treatment for patients who are unlikely to respond sufficiently to a single drug, the Swiss company said on Tuesday.

Tekturna HCT is a single pill combination of Novartis’ Tekturna drug and one of the most widely used high blood pressure drugs, the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide.

“Up to 85 percent of patients will need more than one medication to reach their blood pressure goals,” Dr. Alan Gradman, cardiologist at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Temple University, said in a Novartis statement.

High blood pressure affects nearly one billion people around the world and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the top cause of death globally.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack and failure and organ damage, including kidney failure and vision problems.

Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Mike Nesbit