Olmesartan Linked to Phantom Celiac Disease

If you have blood pressure problems and are on the drug olmesartan, brand name Benicar you now have something else to worry about. A new study concludes that this medication may cause symptoms very similar to those of celiac disease. Doctors have been wrongly diagnosing and providing unnecessary treatment for the phantom illness. It is general gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss, the signatures of celiac disease, that come and go in the patients taking the medication. However it is not yet known when how and why this occurs.

The Celiac Disease Center has seen patients with phantom celiac while on a course of olmesartan. Some patients have suffered acute symptoms and one even suffered kidney failure that was treated with dialysis. It is the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota who conducted the new study. They observed twenty-two patients aged between 47 and 81 with chronic diarrhea.

They had lost an average of forty pounds in weight. 14 of the sufferers were hospital cases, but analysis finally showed that none of them had celiac disease. This is a malfunction of the gastrointestinal organs, which is thought to stem from allergic reactions to gluten. All 22 were taking olmesartan. The symptoms improved almost overnight, after they stopped the medication and all of them had to change blood pressure medication. Just why olmesartan should create gastrointestinal difficulties is not known but it is thought it may have something to do with the age of the sufferers and the length of time the drug has been taken. More research is needed because while the study proved correlation between phantom celiac disease and the taking of olmesartan it did not prove causation.

Celiac disease is one of the digestive system. When contracted it causes tissue breakdown in the small intestine and reduces the efficiency with which this organ absorbs nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease react badly to gluten, a ubiquitous protein in cereal products such as wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in cereal foods but is also added to other ingested items such as medicines, vitamins, and even lip balm.

Inflammation typical of celiac disease was present but only a blood test showed up the crucial difference, a lack of antibodies in the bloodstream that is also typical for celiac. It is important for doctors to take note of this possibility, so that when patients present with what looks like the syndrome, they and medication to their list of possible diagnostic causes.

Olmesartan has proven to be an effective treatment for the condition of hypertension, or in layman’s terms, raised blood pressure. As a drug, it works by preventing of substances that build up in blood vessels and constrict them. When arteries constrict it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood around the body and so olmesartan helps to keep the pathways clear and eases the heart action.

[box type=”note”]Hopefully this new study will raise the awareness among the medical professional, especially cardiologists of the proven correlation. While further research tries to pin down the cause.[/box]


Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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