Diuretic Drugs May Have Clot-Busting Effects

February 20, 1998

NR 98-4857 (Hyper/Briefs)

DALLAS, Feb. 20 -- Diuretics, drugs that help lower blood pressure by helping the body to eliminate excess fluid, appear to have an extra weapon against coronary artery disease and stroke, according to a study in this month's Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

New research has found that the drug -- one of the most commonly prescribed blood pressure medicines -- may help blunt blood clotting by preventing platelets from clumping. Platelets are disk-shaped blood components that help form clots. Blood clots normally form to prevent blood loss when blood vessels are cut or damaged. But unwanted blood clots can clog the blood vessels and thereby trigger a heart attack or stroke.

In the study, researchers tested blood samples of people to identify the "co-factors" necessary for platelet clumping. They found that one factor is the hormone adrenaline (called epinephrine), which helps stimulate the heart and constricts the blood vessels -- actions that can raise blood pressure. The scientists found that chloride, a mineral naturally found in the body, can restrict epinephrine. Since diuretics work by helping to block chloride, these drugs indirectly may affect epinephrine -- and thereby help prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots, says the study's lead author, Warren Lockett, M.D., professor of medicine and endocrinology at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit.

"The goal of treatment should not be limited to the reduction of blood pressure but, instead, to reduce the death associated with high blood pressure (stroke and coronary thrombosis). Agents that specifically block choride transport, such as diuretics, may decrease thrombosis (clotting) independent of their effect on blood pressure."

Contact: Warren Lockette: ph.: (313) 745-4008.

American Heart Association

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