Gout Medication May Lower High Blood Pressure

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have discovered that bringing down levels of serum uric acid brought high blood pressure down to normal in teenagers. This study was designed to look into whether there is a connection between blood pressure and uric acid, which is a chemical waste product manufactured by the body.

New Therapies

Dr. Daniel Feig, associate professor of pediatrics-renal at BCM and chief of the pediatric hypertension clinics at Texas Children's Hospital says, "If you reduce uric acid, at least in some patients, you may be able to reduce blood pressure. This could be one way people develop hypertension and may allow us to develop new therapies."

When the body produces excess uric acid or doesn't manage to clear it out of your system, levels build up within the blood. Uric acid is produced as a waste product that is created as food is metabolized. When levels get too high, uric acid crystals form around the joints and this is the cause of gout. For the purposes of this study, a common medication for gout called allopurinol was used to lower uric acid levels. Feig comments that due to its rare but life-threatening side effects, the drug cannot be used to treat high blood pressure.

Thirty Teens

For this trial, Feig and his team of researchers gave 15 out of 30 teens just diagnosed with high blood pressure and high levels of serum uric acid allopurinol, twice daily over the course of a month. The other teens received a placebo. At the end of one month, both groups stopped taking their respective treatments for two weeks time, then switched off and took the other medication for a further month.

Feig's team discovered that uric acid levels dropped in most of the teens, and at the same time, most of them were discovered to have a reduction in blood pressure as well. The blood pressure of 20 out of 30 teens was discovered to have decreased to normal levels during treatment with allopurinol. During the time of treatment with the placebo, only 1 out of the 30 teens was found to have attained normal blood pressure.

Feig cautions that allopurinol is not recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure, but that the study indicates a relationship between lowering uric acid blood levels and lowering high blood pressure. The scientist comments that the study is a first step to understanding hypertension. Prior to this time, studies had shown the same results in rats, but this was the first study in which the relationship between uric acid levels and blood pressure was demonstrated in humans.

Side Effects

Feig also states that the available therapies for hypertension have passed the test of time for safety and efficiency. However, the same cannot be stated of the therapies for bringing down serum uric acid levels because of the possibility of the rare and serious side effects with these drugs. That means that antihyperuricemic therapies cannot be considered as the first line of treatment for those with hypertension.