A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia Health System explored how taking blood pressure medication may cause health problems. According to their findings, some of these medications can cause kidney damage to consumers if they are taken long-term.
“Our studies show that renin-producing cells are responsible for the damage,” said researcher Dr. Maria Luisa Sequeira Lopez. “We are now focusing on understanding how these cells, which are so important to defend us from drops in blood pressure and maintain our well-being, undergo such transformation and induce kidney damage. What is needed is to identify what substances these cells make that lead to uncontrolled vessel growth.”
Understanding the risks of high blood pressure
To better understand why blood pressure medication has a negative effect on kidney function, the researchers conducted a study on both mice and humans that explored the ways these drugs affected artery and blood vessel health in the kidneys.
The team identified renin cells as the major culprit behind many of the kidney health risks. When the body is functioning properly, these cells create a hormone that regulates blood pressure levels. However, when consumers are taking medication to regulate their blood pressure, it creates a buildup of these cells that can prevent healthy blood flow to the kidneys.
The researchers explained that these findings may sound the alarm bells for many consumers. However, the team urges consumers who are taking blood pressure medications to continue doing so because they are an important way for those with hypertension to maintain their heart health. The team hopes more work continues to be done to understand why these medications interact so poorly with the kidneys.
“It would be important to conduct prospective, randomized controlled studies to determine the extent of functional and tissue damage in patients taking medications for blood pressure control,” said researcher Dr. Ariel Gomez. “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.”