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Blood Pressure Drug Delays Kidney Disease in Diabetics
Date:3/9/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- A drug normally used to lower blood pressure may also help protect the kidneys of people with type 2 diabetes, researchers are reporting with a caveat.

In a new study, an international team of researchers found that the drug pressure-reducing medication olmesartan, brand name Benicar, could increase the time before any kidney problems were evident by 23 percent.

The study measured the possibility of kidney function problems by measuring the amount of albumin secreted in the urine (microalbuminuria).

"Olmesartan was associated with a delayed onset of microalbuminuria, even though blood-pressure control in both groups was excellent according to current standards," wrote the study's authors in a report published in the March 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine,

"Microalbuminuria is a marker for renal disease, and preventing renal disease is important for longevity," said Dr. Julie Ingelfinger, the deputy editor of the journal and author of an accompanying journal editorial. She added, "It is possible to use medications preemptively to delay or prevent the onset of microalbuminuria."

But news from the study wasn't all good. More patients in the olmesartan treatment group had fatal cardiovascular events compared to those in the placebo group. Fifteen people with preexisting heart conditions who were taking the drug died from heart problems versus three people taking the placebo.

Ingelfinger said that it's impossible to know right now if this was a chance finding, or if somehow the drug might have contributed to these deaths. She said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was still investigating the deaths. On its Website, the FDA said that at this point it still feels the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks for people with high blood pressure.

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