Study shows blood pressure meds may not restore vascular function

While the drugs restore normal vascular rhythms in the largest blood vessels, the smallest ones are left generally unimproved, researchers say.
By Amy Wallace  |  Oct. 16, 2017 at 2:44 PM
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Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A study from Lancaster University found that blood pressure medication does not completely restore vascular function in hypertensive patients.

Researchers found that conventional medication used to reduce high blood pressure restored normal vascular rhythms only in the largest blood vessels, but not in the smallest blood vessels.

The World Health Organization reports hypertension affects roughly 40 percent of people over age 25 and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

The study, published in the October edition of Frontiers in Physiology, compared a group of patients in their 20s and two other groups in their 70s. The groups were separated between no history of hypertension and others taking medications for high blood pressure.

Researchers found that in the older group being treated for high blood pressure with medication had restored normal function at the level of arterioles and larger blood vessels, but there were differences between the two older groups when it came to smaller blood vessels.

"Specifically, current hypertensive treatment did not fully restore the coherence or the strength of coupling between oscillations in the heart rate, respiration, and vascular rhythms [vasomotion]," Professor Aneta Stefanovska, of Lancaster University, said in a press release.

"These are thought to be important in the efficient and adaptive behavior of the cardiovascular system. Indeed, one aspect of ageing is the progressive physiological weakening of these links that keep the cardiovascular system reactive and functional."

Researchers hope the findings will lead to better treatments for hypertension in the future.

"It is clear that current anti-hypertensive treatments, while successfully controlling blood pressure, do not restore microvascular function," Stefanovska said. "Our novel multiscale analysis methods could help in optimizing future drug developments that would benefit from taking microvascular function into account."

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