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Blood pressure: ‘Commonly prescribed drugs’ can cause kidney damage – are you affected?

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The tricky thing about high blood pressure is that it doesn’t have many symptoms, which makes it hard to notice the condition. 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 medicine.

There are different types of medicine for targeting high blood pressure.

Some people might even need to take a combination of different drugs.

Treatment like this might not make you feel any different but they are still working, the NHS explains.

One common drug prescribed mainly to those under the age of 55 is ACE inhibitor.

Now, new research from the University of Virginia School (UVA) of Medicine found that this “commonly prescribed” drug for treating high blood pressure could be contributing to kidney damage.

The study has linked this concern to a long-term use of ACE inhibitor.

If you are affected by this, the researchers advise that you should continue taking the medications.

The purpose of this research is to gain a better understanding of the drug’s long-term effects.

High blood pressure impacts a billion people around the world, with a third of adults suffering from the condition in the UK.

This new research set out to understand why severe forms of the condition are often linked to the thickening of the arteries and small blood vessels in the kidney, leading to organ damage.

The study found that specialised kidney cells called renin cells play a role in this.

These cells normally produce renin, which is a vital hormone that helps the body regulate blood pressure.

But harmful changes in the renin cells can cause the cells to invade the walls of the kidney’s blood vessels. 

This leads to a build-up of smooth muscle cells, causing the vessels to thicken and stiffen. 

Which leaves the blood unable to flow through the kidney as it should.

The study’s findings suggest that long-term use of drugs that inhibit the renin-angiotensin system, such as ACE inhibitors, have a similar effect.

Using these blood pressure drugs for the long term was associated with hardened kidney vessels during both mice and human studies.

The researchers acknowledge that the medications can be “lifesaving for patients”, so they highlight the importance of continuing the 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 make so that we can counteract them to prevent the damage while the hypertension is treated with the current drugs available today.”

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