A recent study revealed that L-type calcium channel blockers (LCCBs) may hurt the heart as much as they benefit it.
They discovered that LCCBs alter blood arteries, reducing blood flow and increasing pressure. Additionally, they uncovered that LCCBs are associated with an increased risk of heart failure.
The results of the study show that caution should be exercised when recommending these meds, particularly those aged 65 years and older with advanced hypertension.
Nearly half of all adults in the United States—just over a hundred million people—have high blood pressure, and the frequency is increasing.
By 2025, the disease is predicted to afflict 1.56 billion people worldwide.
Calcium channel blockers of the L-type are one of the most often given meds for high blood pressure.
However, this study discovered that these therapies may instead produce the type of damage they are designed to prevent.
The researchers said that vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) comprise the walls of blood arteries, where they assist the vessels in controlling blood flow through contraction and relaxation.
This action is controlled by the calcium concentration within the cells.
Numerous calcium-permeable channels are present in VSMCs to regulate this calcium concentration. When hypertension is present, these channels allow an excessive amount of calcium to enter VSMCs, causing the cells to undergo physiological changes known as “remodeling,” as well as divide and proliferate.
These altered, proliferating cells cause the walls of blood vessels to thicken and stiffen, resulting in an increase in blood pressure.
The team says L-type calcium channel blockers were created to prevent this from happening.
However, these agents also cause modification and proliferation of VSMCs via a different mechanism.
In the study, the researchers examined smooth muscle cells in vitro and in rats using optical, electrophysiological, and molecular methods.
Additionally, they evaluated data from the Penn State clinical database and discovered that heart failure rates were significantly greater in hypertensive patients treated with LCCBs than in those treated with other forms of hypertension meds.
According to the researchers, treatment with LCCBs is clinically associated with an increased risk of heart failure, necessitating a thorough review of LCCB use in patients with persistent hypertension who have vascular remodeling.
When hypertensive individuals come with COVID-19, further caution should be exercised, as LCCBs may worsen their vascular damage.
The study was published in PNAS.