According to research published in the journal Hypertension, commonly prescribed antihypertensive agents could impact mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Researchers at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow collected data on 525,046 patients; 144,066 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria (ie, aged 40–80 years, treatment with either angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor [ACEI]/angiotensin-receptor blocker [ARB], beta-blocker, calcium channel blocker or thiazide diuretics for >90 days). This group was then compared to a group of 111,936 patients not taking any of these antihypertensive agents. Patients were followed for five years and hospitalization for mood disorders was documented. Findings from this study included the following:

  • Among the study patients, there were 299 hospital admissions, predominantly due to major depression; median time to admission was 847 days
  • Compared to patients on ACEIs or ARBs, patients on beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers were at two-fold increased risk of hospital admission for mood disorder
  • Patients on ACEIs or ARBs had the lowest risk for hospitalization compared to patients on other BP drugs and patients not taking antihypertensive medications
  • Patients taking thiazide diuretics showed the same risk for mood disorders as patients not taking antihypertensive medications
  • Co-existing medical conditions increased the risk of mood disorders

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According to study author Sandosh Padmanabhan, M.D., Ph.D., these findings suggest that ACEIs and ARBs that are used to treat hypertension may be useful as new or “repurposed” treatments for mood disorders. Previous studies have demonstrated evidence on the role of the renin-angiotensin system in cognition, depression and behavior and that inhibition may have therapeutic benefits in mood disorders.

However, Dr. Padmanabhan cautions that this study does have limitations. “It is important that these results are validated in independent studies. This is a single center study, which looked at the risk of the more severe forms of mood disorders requiring hospitalization. It would be important to study the effect of these drugs on minor to modest changes in mood, as these will have an impact on the quality of life among hypertensive patients,” he said.

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