Is Gut Bacteria To Blame For Drug Resistant High Blood Pressure?

Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates famously proclaimed that "All disease begins in the gut" (via Brain). In more recent times, research into gut health and its implications for overall health has increased exponentially. Scientists are discovering how the makeup of the gut microbiome (or the total collection of diverse microorganisms that populate the digestive tract) affects not only the risk of certain diseases, but also the effectiveness of treatments.

Recently, researchers from the University of Toledo, Ohio, discovered that enzymes produced by certain bacteria commonly found in the gut may provide the answer to a question that has stumped doctors for years — why are about 20% of people with high blood pressure resistant to antihypertensive medications? They found that those with a higher amount of the bacteria Coprococcus saw reduced effectiveness of the commonly-used blood pressure medication quinapril (via MedicalNewsToday). Further tests showed that an enzyme produced by the bacteria worked to break down the medication, making it less effective.

Personalized treatment could include altering the gut bacteria

"Today, doctors treat resistant hypertension by adding or substituting medications, which can contribute to overdoses, more side effects and noncompliance," Tao Yang, an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, told EurekAlert. "A better understanding of the relationship between gut microbes and drug efficacy could lead to new treatment approaches for people who don't respond to blood pressure medication. This could include new drugs or modulating gut microbiota with probiotics, antibiotics and other methods."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half the adult US population suffers from high blood pressure. A better understanding of the gut microbiome and its effect on certain medications could lead to more personalized and effective blood pressure treatment. Future plans could include dietary changes and the use of probiotics to alter the gut microbiome. "As we all have unique microbe gut communities, understanding how we can optimize them via personalized approaches to our diet is crucial for future health strategies," Tim Spector, professor of Epidemiology at King's College London, told MedicalNewsToday.