Research Has Found That Blood Pressure Drugs Can Cause Kidney Damage

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Researchers have raised concerns that long-term usage of medications typically prescribed for treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure may be a contributing factor for kidney damage. Although the researchers recommend that patients should carry on taking the medications, such as the commonly used ACE inhibitors, they’re urging for more studies to help better understand the long-term effects of the medications.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1172/jci.insight.154337

The researchers show that cells which produce renin are responsible for the damage. They’re now examining how these cells, which are so important in defending from drops in blood pressure and maintaining well-being, are transformed and induce kidney damage. The substances that are made by these cells that result in uncontrolled vessel growth within the kidneys need to be identified.

A billion people worldwide are affected by chronic high blood pressure. A better understanding was needed of why severe kinds of the condition tend to be accompanied by small blood vessels in the kidney and thickening of the arteries, resulting in organ damage.

Specialized kidney cells known as renin cells were found to play a major part. These cells usually produce renin, an essential hormone that helps the body in regulating blood pressure. Harmful changes in the renin cells can however result in the cells invading the kidney’s blood vessels walls. The renin cells then trigger an accumulation of smooth muscle cells, another type of cell that causes the vessels to stiffen and thicken. This results in blood not flowing through the kidney as it should.

It was found that long-term usage of medications inhibiting the renin-angiotensin system, which include angiotensin receptor blockers, or ACE inhibitors, have a similar effect. These medications are commonly made use of for various purposes, such as treating high blood pressure, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure, in addition to preventing serious heart problems. But the researchers found that long-term usage of the medications was linked to hardened kidney vessels in lab mice as well as humans.

The researchers emphasize that the drugs can be lifesaving for many individuals, and stress the importance of carrying on taking them, although additional research is needed for a better understanding of the long-term effects that the medications have on the kidneys. Randomized controlled studies must be conducted to determine the level of functional and tissue damage in individuals using blood pressure control medications.

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