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Gout Drug Cuts Teen High Blood Pressure

Allopurinol Lowers Teen Blood Pressure but Isn't the Ultimate Answer, Researcher Says

Gout Medicine for Blood Pressure: Study Results

The teens' uric acid levels declined while taking allopurinol. While on the drug, blood pressure dropped, and the differences were significant between the medication and placebo phases, Feig says. "Twenty of 30 children were normotensive [had normal blood pressure] on allopurinol," he says. "On placebo, one of 30 was [at normal blood pressure]."

At the start, the teens' blood pressure readings in the clinic averaged 139/83. During the drug treatment phases, blood pressure decreased by an average of 6.9 points for systolic pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) and 5.1 for diastolic pressure (the bottom number). On the placebo, systolic pressure declined by 2 and diastolic pressure declined by 2.4.

Allopurinol for Teen Blood Pressure: Serious Side Effects

Two experts who reviewed the study results for WebMD worried, as Feig did, that the results would be over-interpreted and viewed as a reason to use allopurinol in teens.

"I think the study is well done,'' says Henry Black, MD, president of the American Society of Hypertension and a clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine in New York. It found what it set out to prove, he says -- that lowering high uric acid levels can lower blood pressure, at least in this small study.

But he had a caveat: "Allopurinol has some very serious and potentially fatal side effects," he says, including gastrointestinal complaints and a severe, allergic reaction known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. "It's a leap to consider allopurinol an alternative treatment for high blood pressure in teens."

"This is not a benign medication," agrees Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a preventive cardiologist and director of Women and Heart Disease of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "When I give allopurinol to adults, there is a list of side effects [I provide to them]."

For teens, Steinbaum says, the first line of treatment for high blood pressure, as for adults, should be lifestyle improvement -- encouraging them to eat right and to exercise.

Feig agrees that lifestyle comes first. In the study, the teens received advice on how to eat a healthful diet and lose weight.

In his ongoing research, Feig is studying obese teens with pre-hypertension to see if lowering their uric acid will normalize their blood pressure. If the same findings bear out, the next step, he says, is to find better ways to lower uric acid.

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