Blood pressure may be linked to PTSD medication performance

By Ryan Maass  |  Nov. 3, 2016 at 12:06 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Medication for post-traumatic stress disorder is more effective for patients with higher blood pressure, researchers found in a study.

Scientists involved with the experiment noted the drug prazosin has reduced PTSD symptoms in the past, but approximately one-third of all recipients don't respond to the treatment at all. In a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the authors suggest high blood pressure may be a biomarker for predicting individual responses to the drug.

"These findings suggest that higher standing blood pressure is a biomarker that can contribute to a personalized medicine approach to identifying soldiers and veterans with combat PTSD likely to benefit from prazosin," lead researcher Murray Raskind said in a press release.

The method was tested on 67 soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan over a 15-week period. 32 participants were administered prazosin, while 35 received a placebo. Individuals with higher blood pressure demonstrated notable improvement in their PTSD symptoms. The study's authors say their findings can help medical professionals tailor their treatments more effectively.

"The increase in blood pressure in these PTSD patients may be a biomarker for patients who are more likely to benefit from prazosin," Biological Psychiatry editor John Krystal explained. "If so, it may be a useful indicator of activation of noradrenergic activation associated with PTSD in these patients."

PTSD is a mental health problem typically associated with combat veterans and survivors of natural disasters, abuse and other trauma. The disorder is characterized by impulsive behavior, negative feelings and occassionally flashbacks. Prazosin is designed to treat the ailment by blocking the stress chemicals adrenaline and noradrenaline.

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