The difficulty with high blood pressure is that it doesn’t have many symptoms, which makes it difficult to detect the disease. But leaving high blood pressure untreated can lead to health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. To control high readings, some people will be prescribed blood pressure medication.
Now, new research from the University of Virginia School (UVA) of Medicine has found that this “commonly prescribed” drug to treat high blood pressure may contribute to kidney damage.
The study linked this concern to long-term use of the ACE inhibitor.
If this affects you, the researchers advise continuing to take the medications.
The goal of this research is to better understand the long-term effects of the drug.
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High blood pressure affects one billion people worldwide, a third of adults with the condition in the UK.
This new research aims to understand why severe forms of the disease are often linked to thickening of the arteries and small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to organ damage.
The study found that specialized kidney cells called renin cells play a role in this.
These cells normally produce renin, a vital hormone that helps the body regulate blood pressure.
Long-term use of these blood pressure medications has been associated with hardening of the kidney vessels in mouse and human studies.
The researchers acknowledge that the drugs can “save patients’ lives”, so they emphasize the importance of continuing treatment.
But the researchers add that more studies are needed to better understand the long-term effects on the kidneys.
Ariel Gomez, from UVA’s Department of Pediatrics and Child Health Research Center, said: “It is imperative to find out what molecules these cells are making so that we can counteract them to prevent damage while hypertension is treated with current medications available today.”