Diuretics Can Help Control Blood Pressure

Study finds they aid patients who don't respond to standard medications

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THURSDAY, Oct. 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Two low-cost alternative drugs -- amiloride and spironolactone -- may help patients who still have high blood pressure despite taking standard hypertension drugs, an Indiana University School of Medicine study has found.

Amiloride and spironolactone are diuretics (water pills) that have been available for many years but are often overlooked by doctors, the researchers noted. The drugs work by limiting the amount of sodium the kidneys reabsorb or take back into the body during the process of producing urine.

This study included 98 black Americans with high blood pressure. Some were given either amiloride or spironolactone, some were given both drugs, and some were given a placebo. All of the patients continued to take their standard medications to treat high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

On average, patients taking the drugs separately or together showed significant blood pressure declines. The findings were published in the September issue of the journal Hypertension.

"The kidneys do an incredible job of holding on to sodium, which was important to the survival of our early ancestors who lived in a salt-poor world, but today there's so much salt in the food we eat that the kidneys end up holding onto too much sodium," and that can lead to high blood pressure, researcher Dr. Howard Pratt said in a prepared statement.

By limiting the amount of sodium that's retained in the kidneys, amiloride and spironolactone help lower blood pressure, Pratt said.

He noted that doctors treating patients who don't respond to standard therapy for high blood pressure often prescribe higher doses of the medicine already being used or add a new blood pressure drug that could be expensive and often is also ineffective.

The findings of this and other studies may convince doctors to try amiloride or spironolactone alternatives instead, Pratt said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about controlling blood pressure.

SOURCE: Indiana University, news release, October 2005

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