Gout Drug Cuts Teen High Blood Pressure
Allopurinol Lowers Teen Blood Pressure but Isn't the Ultimate Answer, Researcher Says
Aug. 26, 2008 -- The drug allopurinol, often prescribed to lower uric acid
levels in adults who suffer the painful arthritic condition known as gout, also appears to help
lower high blood pressure in teens, according to a new
However, the study's lead author emphasizes he is not suggesting that the
powerful drug, which can have serious side effects, be used in teens with high
blood pressure. He conducted
the study to test the hypothesis that lowering uric acid levels can lower blood
pressure in teens.
"I really don't want this [study] to be taken to suggest that
allopurinol is a good alternative for treatment of blood pressure in children
or adults," says Daniel I. Feig, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics
at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The drug is too potent, he and
other experts say, and the risk of serious side effects make it unattractive to
use long-term in teens.
If future, larger studies also find that lowering uric acid in teens with
high blood pressure normalizes their pressure, Feig says, "the impetus will
be ... to find better ways to lower uric acid, whether by dietary means or by
The study is published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
Uric Acid and Blood Pressure: The Back Story
Buildup of uric acid, a natural waste product, can lead to a painful
inflammation of the joints called gout, a form of arthritis that typically occurs
in middle-aged men. Uric acid levels can increase if the body produces more of
it or if the body has problems getting rid of it.
Uric acid also has been discussed as a possible factor in high blood
pressure since the 1870s, Feig says. But the concept fell out of favor in
recent times, until laboratory studies on animals beginning in the late 1990s
showed that inducing a rise in uric acid in animals raises their blood
pressure. Other studies have found that lowering uric acid levels can improve
blood vessel functioning, he says.
Gout Medicine for Teen Blood Pressure
Feig's team randomly assigned 30 teens, aged 11 to 17, with newly diagnosed
stage I essential hypertension, the mildest kind, to take either 200 milligrams
of allopurinol twice daily for four weeks or a placebo twice daily for four
weeks. The teens didn't know which they were taking.
After four weeks, the teens switched groups: Teens taking the placebo got
the drug and teens taking the drug got the placebo.
All of the teens had levels of uric acid associated, in previous studies,
with high blood pressure. Most of the participants were overweight or obese.
They had their blood pressure taken at the clinic and via an ambulatory