Despite the fact that nifedipine increases the risk of heart attacks and death, doctors still prescribe this immediate-release blood pressure drug to elderly patients. The Cologne-based research group led by Ingrid Schubert has now published the results of their investigation in the current issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109: 215-9). Immediate-release nifedipine is classified as a potentially dangerous drug in the PRISCUS list published in 2010. Earlier studies demonstrated that, in comparison to other antihypertensive drugs, nifedipine increases patient risk for mortality and heart attacks. Ingrid Schubert and colleagues have now examined how frequently this calcium channel blocker is prescribed under everyday conditions. By analyzing data from 260 672 insured patients, they were able to document for the first time that doctors continue to prescribe immediate-release nifedipine to elderly patients.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System have shown that elevated pulse pressure may increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) in older adults with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Their study has been published in the early online edition of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in advance of the June 5 print publication. The findings may have treatment implications, since some antihypertensive medications specifically address the pulsatile component of blood pressure. Pulse pressure (PP) - the difference between systolic and diastolic pressure - is one measure of the pulsatile component of blood pressure. PP increases substantially with age, partially due to hardening of the arteries. Hypertension is a common risk factor for AD, but the use of antihypertensive medications to prevent dementia has had mixed results.
Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered a new process that controls the ability of arteries to regulate blood pressure. Arteries are able to control blood pressure by relaxing and constricting. In healthy people, the ability of arteries to relax or constrict is kept in balance. However, this balance shifts in people who are at risk of developing high blood pressure or atherosclerosis. There is more constriction within the arteries so blood cannot flow freely increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Researchers in Southampton, led by Dr Graham Burdge, Reader in Human Nutrition, have identified a new process that controls the ability of arteries to constrict, which could lead to a better understanding of the causes of cardiovascular disease and the development of new treatments.
High fat diets cause damage to blood vessels earlier than previously thought, and these structural and mechanical changes may be the first step in the development of high blood pressure. These findings in mice, by Marie Billaud and colleagues from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the US, are published online in Springer's Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research. With age, increasing weight and metabolic disease, the internal walls of our large arteries progressively thicken and become less elastic, which can lead to furring up of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increased resistance and high blood pressure in severe cases. At present, researchers and physicians tend to measure arterial compliance (a measure of arterial stiffness) in large arteries in relatively advanced stages of metabolic diseases.
Researchers have identified an enzyme linked to pregnancy-induced hypertension - also known as pre-eclampsia - a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and swelling due to fluid retention. The findings could be used to better screen for - and treat - this condition. Pregnancy-induced hypertension, which occurs in approximately 10 percent of pregnancies, is a major cause of maternal and fetal deaths, yet the cause is unknown. The study, led by researchers in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, examined mice for corin - an enzyme normally present in the heart - and determined that the deficiency of this enzyme in the uterus may be an underlying cause of the disease. The study was published today in Nature. Pregnancy poses a major challenge for controlling blood pressure.