Popular Blood Pressure Drug May Boost Risk Of Developing Bowel Disease

A new study warns that taking a popular type of blood pressure medication may put some people at risk of developing a dangerous bowel condition that, in some cases, can result in a medical emergency. The risk is greatest in the elderly, though researchers aren't sure what the underlying cause of this link is at this point in time.

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The risk was linked with a type of hypertension drug called a calcium channel blocker, which lowers blood pressure by preventing calcium from entering blood vessel wall and heart cells. This is one of multiple types of high blood pressure medication, other examples including ACE-inhibitors and beta blockers.

A new study out of Imperial College London looked at all three types of hypertension drugs to evaluate how effective each type is, as well as the side effects from all three. Such information is vital in light of the huge number of adults who suffer from high blood pressure, a known and serious risk factor for future cardiovascular disease.

The team used genetic analyses to focus on genes that mimicked the effects of these different hypertension drugs, enabling them to get around the otherwise long and tricky clinical trials that would make these assessments. Using this method, the researchers found that a class of calcium channel blockers called non-dihydropyridine may increase one's risk of developing a bowel condition called diverticulosis.

This condition causes small pouches (bulges, essentially) to form in the lining of the intestines. In some cases, one of these pouches may burst or become infected, resulting in a life-threatening emergency. According to the study, around 65-percent of adults over the age of 85 are at risk of this condition, though it can also develop in younger adults. There's no cure for the disease, which in some cases may be lifelong.

There's no guarantee that taking this type of hypertension drug will lead to the development of the disease and patients are warned to continue taking their medication. Uncontrolled high blood pressure comes with many known and serious dangers, including increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, eye disease, and more. In light of the findings, additional studies into the potential risk are warranted.