TUESDAY, Aug. 26, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The drug allopurinol -- a drug used to lower uric acid levels -- may lower blood pressure in adolescents with high blood pressure, a new study shows.
Because high blood pressure is commonly associated with high uric acid levels, some studies suggest that elevated uric acid may be one cause of high blood pressure. But since elevated uric acid levels in high blood pressure could be the result of several factors, high uric acid levels are not currently considered a true risk factor for hypertension.
The current study, published in the Aug. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, tested whether treatment with allopurinol would reduce blood pressure in 30 11- to 17-year-olds who had high uric acid levels and newly diagnosed high blood pressure.
Daniel I. Feig, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and his colleagues randomly assigned the participants to receive either allopurinol or a placebo twice a day for four weeks. After the four weeks, they took no therapy for two weeks. For the final four weeks of the study, the participants received whichever therapy -- allopurinol or placebo -- they had not received during the first four weeks.
Allopurinol was associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure. In fact, 20 of the 30 participants achieved normal blood pressure levels while taking the allopurinol, whereas only one of the 30 achieved normal blood pressure while taking the placebo.
The researchers hope that this study may lead to new treatments for people with high blood pressure.
"The results of this study represent a potentially new therapeutic approach, that of control of a biochemical cause of hypertension, rather than nonspecifically lowering elevated blood pressure. Although not representing a fully developed strategy, this study raises an alternative strategy that may prove to be more effective than currently available options," they wrote.
But since allopurinol is associated with adverse effects, including gastrointestinal complaints and Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a severe allergic reaction), the researchers said that it is not indicated for treatment of high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association has more about high blood pressure.