High levels of uric acid linked to high blood pressure

August 27th, 2008 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 27 (IANS) Reducing levels of a waste product like uric acid in the blood normalised blood pressure in most teenagers, according to a recent study.”If you reduce uric acid, you may be able to reduce blood pressure (BP). This could be one way people develop hypertension and may allow us to develop new therapies,” said Daniel Feig, associate professor of paediatrics-renal at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), who led the study.

Uric acid builds up when the body fails to excrete it. It is a waste product resulting from the metabolism of food. Too much uric acid can cause gout, which occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints.

In this study, researchers used allopurinol to reduce high uric acid levels. Allopurinol is usually used to treat gout, but Feig said its potential side effects rule it out as a treatment for high blood pressure.

Feig and colleagues treated teens with newly diagnosed high BP (HBP) and elevated levels of uric acid in their blood with allopurinol. Half of the 30 teenagers with newly diagnosed HBP and higher than normal levels of uric acid underwent treatment with allopurinol twice a day for four weeks.

The other half received a placebo (an inactive drug). They then went without either drug for two weeks before receiving the opposite treatment for another four weeks.

The treatment not only reduced uric acid levels, it also reduced BP in most of the teens, said Feig. In fact, he said, BP decreased to normal in 20 of the 30 teens when they were on allopurinol. By contrast, only one out of the 30 teens had normal BP when receiving the placebo.

“This is far from being a reasonable therapeutic intervention for HBP, but these findings indicate a first step in understanding the pathway of the disease,” said Feig. “You cannot prevent a disease until you know the cause. This study is a way of finding that out.”

Studies in rats had indicated previously that high levels of uric acid could be associated with the development of HBP through a proven pathway, said Feig. However, he and his colleagues needed to determine if this was true for humans as well.

Side effects could include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, liver problems and even a very rare, potentially life-threatening reaction known as Steven-Johnson syndrome.

While only one in 3,000 develop this problem, the risk is too great to prescribe the drug on a routine basis to people with HBP, a problem that affects 30 to 35 percent of adults.

These findings appeared in a current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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