Common blood pressure drug linked to severe GI problems

Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered an association between a commonly prescribed blood pressure drug, Olmesartan, and severe gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and electrolyte abnormalities -- symptoms common among those who have celiac disease. The findings are published online today in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

From 2008-11, Mayo Clinic physicians treated 22 patients with symptoms similar to celiac disease, including and abnormalities. Patients came from 17 states, and some had been diagnosed with celiac disease. They had and weight loss; the median weight loss was 39 pounds, and one patient lost 125 pounds. Fourteen of the 22 were hospitalized because of the severity of their symptoms. When given a blood test, however, these patients didn't come back with results typical of celiac disease. They also didn't respond to treatments such as gluten-free diets.

After examining their medications, Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Joseph Murray, M.D., pulled several of the patients off Olmesartan. Their symptoms dramatically improved. Eventually, all 22 were taken off the drug, and all showed improvement. Eighteen of the 22 patients had intestinal biopsies after stopping the medication and showed improvement.

"We thought these cases were celiac disease initially because their biopsies showed features very like celiac disease, such as inflammation," says Dr. Murray, the lead author. "What made them different was they didn't have the antibodies in their blood that are typical for ."

Olmesartan -- prescribed for the , or high blood pressure -- works by blocking substances that tighten blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more smoothly and the heart to pump more efficiently, according to the U.S. National Library on Medicine.

"It's really an awareness issue. We want doctors to be aware of this issue, so if they see a patient who is having this type of syndrome -- they think about medications as a possible association," Dr. Murray says. "We've reported an association. What needs to be known next is the science to understand why there is such an association."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Socioeconomic status influences celiac disease diagnosis

May 08, 2011

Income is a pivotal factor in whether a patient without common symptoms of celiac disease is accurately diagnosed with the digestive condition, according to a new study from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, ...

Recommended for you

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

Apr 17, 2014

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Drug watchdog urges vigilance in cancer drug theft

Apr 17, 2014

Europe's medicine watchdog urged doctors Thursday to be vigilant in administering the cancer drug Herceptin, vials of which had been stolen in Italy and tampered with before being sold back into the supply chain.

User comments