Allopurinol may lower blood pressure in teens

A medication used to reduce uric acid levels might help lower blood pressure in adolescents if lifestyle modifications don't work or aren't attempted. That's according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, elevated uric acid levels may be the cause of high blood pressure in certain individuals, according to some studies, but since there are several possible causes of higher-than-normal uric acid levels in patients with hypertension, there is no proof of a causal relationship.

The researchers evaluated adolescents, ages 11 to 17 years, who have elevated uric acid levels as well as a new diagnosis of high blood pressure to see if the drug allopurinol would reduce blood pressure.

Although the sample size was very small--just 30 teens in the study--two-thirds of the teens taking allopurinol during the trial showed a reduction in blood pressure to normal levels, whereas only one in 30 did so when taking the placebo medication.

Allopurinol's side effect profile, however, includes Stevens-Johnson syndrome a rare, but serious allergic reaction, as well as gastrointestinal problems, precluding the researchers from recommending its use as a hypertension treatment. Still, the study seems to justify further research into the biochemical causes of high blood pressure. 

- read the Washington Post story
- see the study abstract for more