Traumatized people who take a class of common blood pressure medications tend to have less severe post-traumatic stress symptoms, researchers have found.
The finding suggests that ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors or ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) could be valuable tools for treating or preventing post-traumatic stress disorder.
The results were published online May 1 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
"These results are particularly exciting because it's the first time ACE inhibitors and ARBs have been connected to PTSD, and it gives us a new direction to build on," says senior author Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and a researcher at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
"These data come from an observational study, not a randomized clinical trial, so it is important to limit our interpretation until larger, placebo-control, double-blinded trials can be performed. Still, they provide evidence from a human population that could be followed up in a rigorous controlled trial. This class of medications has been widely prescribed for hypertension for years and their safety profiles are well known, so our results could be translated into action relatively quickly."
The findings emerge from the Grady Trauma Project, an observational study of more than 5,000 low-income Atlanta residents with high levels of exposure to violence and physical and sexual abuse, resulting in high rates of civilian PTSD.
All 505 participants in this study were exposed to at least one traumatic event, and around 35 percent of them (180) met the criteria for diagnosis with PTSD. Out of 98 participants taking ACE inhibitors or ARBs, generally for the primary purpose of blood pressure control, 26 had a PTSD diagnosis.
People with PTSD can experience three types of symptoms: hyperarousal, avoidance/numbing, an
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