New Blood Pressure Drug Hospitalizes 14

. . . Benicar causes celiac disease-like symptoms

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a serious problem in the US. Almost 1/3 of the population has hypertension, defined as a blood pressure reading of 140/90 (up from 5% of the population in 1900 and 10% in 1939), while it’s agreed that any reading over 119/79 is damaging to health. While hypertension has no symptoms, it causes half of all cardiovascular disease-related deaths, including heart attacks and strokes, and contributes to dementia, macular degeneration, and renal disease.

Blood pressure medications have a notorious history of having dangerous serious side effects, however the newest class of blood pressure drugs, the angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), have been hailed as being almost side effect-free.  Well . . . not so fast there . . .

One popular ARB, olmesartan, aka Benicar, has been found to cause gut inflammation with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and electrolyte abnormalities severe enough to hospitalize 14 of 22 patients recently studied by the Mayo Clinic. All of these patients were taking olmesartan when they developed gastrointestinal problems. They were initially diagnosed as having celiac disease, but a gluten-free diet failed to improve their condition. However stopping the olmesartan reversed their symptoms. (Apparently no study has been launched to asses any long-term intestinal damage done by the drug.)

Olmesartan sales surpass $500 million a year in the US alone. Although severe gut damage is now being called a rare side effect of the drug, one must wonder how it is affecting the intestinal health of the many patients taking olmesartan in whom intestinal damage may be more subtle; also about other ARBs like Cozaar, Diovan, Atacand, Avapro, Micardis and Teveten.

Since many people believe most disease starts in the gut, I’d rather use a natural approach, especially since hypertension is usually easy to reverse without resorting to pharmaceuticals. A natural approach would include a good diet; daily exercise; proactively managing stress; losing excess weight; drinking 8 glasses of purified water daily; checking and optimizing your vitamin D levels; taking plenty of antioxidants like vitamins C and E and CoQ10; replacing bad fats (processed oils and trans fats) with olive oil and essential fatty acids from fish and flaxseed; optimizing sodium/potassium balance by minimizing salt and maximizing potassium intake from fruits and vegetables; optimizing calcium/magnesium balance with a 1:1 ratio; getting plenty of fiber; eliminating sugar and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels low; getting homocysteine levels checked and lowering with appropriate supplementation if needed; eating lots of garlic and/or taking garlic supplements; drinking green tea or white tea in place of coffee; and taking saunas.

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Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Vital signs: prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension — United States, 1999–2002 and 2005—2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. February 4, 2011 / 60(04);103-108.  www.cdc.gov.
Rubio-Tapia A. Severe spruelike enteropathy associated with Olmesartan. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. August 2002;87(8):732-738.
Husten L. Olmesartan use associated with GI disorder that mimics celiac disease. Forbes.com. Posted online June 21, 2012.
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2 thoughts on “New Blood Pressure Drug Hospitalizes 14

  1. It is very interesting to read this article on high blood pressure medicine and gut inflammation. I have had stomach and bowel problems ever since I have been taking blood pressure medicine – including Benicar, Diovon and a few others. All, but Benicar, made me extremely dizzy also. Yet when talking to my doctor, he stated everything was safe and the stomach problem was just acid reflux, and ignored any suggestions for natural remedies. I am off all medications now and feel better, yet the stomach problems are lingering, just not as bad. It seems that each week is an improvement with taking more fiber and probiotics, as well as Ubiquinol. One question, I have heard that Ubiquinol is recommended for people over 50 vs. CoQ10. What is your take on this?

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