Blood Pressure Medications

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high_blood_pressureThe media seems to be talking a lot about Blood pressure medications recently. There is a class of medication used to treat high blood pressure known as angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB). ARB help relax blood vessels to allow the blood to flow easier to the heart to pump, which lowers the blood pressure. Studies are concluding that patients taking an ARB have a notable increase in developing cancer, particularly lung cancer.

There are several things that take place when maintaining blood pressure. The hormonal system that is responsible for supporting blood pressure is known as renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAA) system. This system goes through various steps to stimulate and convert the production of a protein called Angiotensin I, then is transformed into Angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is the hormone that constricts the blood vessels which elevates the blood pressure.

Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARB) and Angiotensin enzyme inhibitors (ACE) are the two types of medication that are used to help lower blood pressure. However, both drugs have the same outcome in the end. They both help block the manufacturing of Angiotensin II, but they also release substantial chemicals, such as nitric oxide, which causes a widening of the arteries.

A decrease in blood pressure is also known as antihypertensive and the increase in blood pressure is known as hypertension. 50 years ago a drug was on the market named reserpine. Reserpine was used for lowering blood pressure, however was related to increased breast cancer risk. Ever since then the question of whether or not blood pressure medications can cause cancer has not stopped.

A clinical study was followed on 61,590 patients. Of the patients that took an ARB medication it was discovered that there was an 11% increase of cancer, and 25% of the patients were diagnosed with lung cancer. This renders into a moderate but noteworthy effect of a patient being diagnosed with cancer 1 in 105 patients who took an ARB for four years. This may not sound like a high risk but it is equivalent to that of a passive smoker.

The association between cancer and high blood pressure medications may not be big, but clinically the potential risk of cancer is still undetermined but can give an estimate of how the drugs may cause cancer.

Many researchers argue the fact that these drugs can cause new cancer detection and if any, it’s a small percentage. They have concluded that the diagnosis of cancer was by chance. One of biggest risks of lung cancer is caused by smoking. It is estimated to take 10 years or more of exposure to increase the chances of being diagnosed with lung cancer, therefore the limited time of exposure to an ARB drug may not have a meaningful effect.

With the findings rather big or small it alerts investigators to research the possibility that the risk of cancer may be caused by using ARB medications. Often times, doctors tend to over prescribe ARB drugs and it is important to understand all risks and warnings that come with taking a prescription drug for the lowering of blood pressure. It is up to the patient and the doctor to discuss possible risks that come with taking these types of drugs.Certain medications for the treatment of high blood pressure have shown to be related to severe medical issues. A healthy diet, reducing salt intake, and regular exercise can lower blood pressure, but many patients with hypertension also use medication prescribed by their doctor. Medications used to treat high blood pressure include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, blood vessel dilators, ACE inhibitors, and alpha and beta blockers. Many of these types of medications pose a risk of heart attacks, cancer, stroke and liver damage.

Since there are so many different types of medication to treat high blood pressure, the side effects can vary. For example, diuretics commonly cause dehydration. They decrease the potassium levels in the body, often causing leg cramps and weakness. This medication rids the body of extra water and salt and leads to frequent urination. Beta-blockers slow down the heart and have been linked with side effects including depression, insomnia, asthma and poor circulation. ACE inhibitors help blood vessels to relax and can cause a hacking cough, skin rash and loss of taste. ACE inhibitors also pose risk for kidney failure. Dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, upset stomach, headaches, and sensitivity to light are a few of the most common side effects caused by hypertension medication. It’s important for patients to report any major side effects to a medical professional.

Risk of cancer has also been linked to some hypertension medications. In a recent medical analysis, ARB, or angiotensin-receptor blocker, was shown to have increased the risk for cancer. The probability for developing lung cancer was 25 percent higher in those taking ARB. A study published in the “Cancer” journal in 1997, found that women over the age of 65 who were taking calcium channel blockers were twice as likely were twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those women who were not taking the medication. Calcium blockers keep calcium out of muscle cells in the heart and veins which can increase the risk for heart attack and death. Statins, which typically are prescribed to reduce cholesterol, have more frequently been used to treat patients with hypertension. These types of medications have also been linked to liver disease, heart attacks, strokes, and depression. MedicationSense.com revealed that out of 100,000 patients using a high dose of this medication, 271 patients experienced liver injury.

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