Common high blood pressure drug may harm gut health in older people

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In a recent study from Imperial College London, researchers found that a type of blood pressure-lowering medication, called a calcium-channel blocker, may be linked with a higher risk of a type of bowel condition called diverticulosis.

This condition causes small bulges or pouches to appear in the lining of the intestine.

This gut problem particularly affects the elderly (as many as 65% of over 85s may be affected), and it can in some cases lead to a medical emergency if the pouches become infected or burst.

The study is published in Circulation. One author is Dr. Dipender Gill.

In the study, the team examined the effectiveness and side effects of three common blood pressure medications: ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers.

By checking versions of genes that mimic the effects of these drugs, the team was able to study the drugs’ effectiveness — and their potential side effects.

First, they identified the proteins targeted by the drugs, and which help lower blood pressure.

Next, they analyzed genetic data from around 750,000 people and identified the so-called genetic variants that code for these proteins.

The team then studied whether these gene variants — which cause increased production of these proteins — were linked to an increased or decreased risk of other diseases.

The good news was that, as expected, these so-called genetic variants (which coded for proteins involved in lowering blood pressure) were linked to lower heart disease and stroke risk.

However, after assessing the risk of around 900 different diseases, the team found that the versions of genes related to the effects of a particular type of calcium channel blocker — the non-dihydropyridine class, were linked to an increased risk of a bowel condition called diverticulosis.

The team compared their findings with further genetic data and supported the potential link with an increased risk of the bowel condition.

This is the first time that this class of blood pressure drug has been linked to diverticulosis.

The researchers say it may relate to effects on the function of intestine muscles, which perform contractions to transport food through the gut.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about how common high blood pressure drugs linked to higher risk of cognitive decline and findings of widely used blood pressure drugs may increase breast cancer death.

For more information about high blood pressure treatment, please see recent studies of how this common food may help lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and results showing that this simple exercise may lower blood pressure more effectively.

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