Rare Reaction to Blood Pressure Medication Mimics Celiac Disease Symptoms

June 22, 2012

Rare Reaction to Blood Pressure Medication Mimics Celiac Disease Symptoms


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Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic reports potential side effect of taking Olmesartan.

A renowned celiac disease researcher is calling on doctors to help identify and address a potential association between the blood pressure medication Olmesaratan and severe celiac disease-like symptoms.

Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic reported 22 cases in which patients taking olmesaratan experienced intestinal inflammation, chronic diarrhea and weight loss – symptoms commonly associated with celiac disease. However, blood tests indicated that the patients did not have celiac disease, and their symptoms did not improve with the introduction of a gluten-free diet, according to a press release.

When the patients were taken off the blood pressure medication, their symptoms “dramatically improved,” the release noted. In particular, 18 of the 22 patients had intestinal biopsies after being taken off olmesaratan and showed a reduction in the celiac-like inflammation and abnormalities previously noted.

In a video posted by the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Murray noted that this is likely a rare reaction to the drug, and that the large majority patients will not need to change their medication. However, he advised anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms while on Olmesaratan or anyone who has been previously diagnosed with celiac disease while on Olmesaratan to talk to their doctor about the possible association.

Dr. Murray also encouraged other doctors to take note of this potential side effect and to report any cases to the FDA.

“We need to know if this is confirmed elsewhere. So I expect that other centers that see patients with complications of celiac disease would look to see if there is any similar association in their populations,” he said.

For more information: Blood Pressure Drug Olmesartan Linked to Celiac Disease Side Effects in a Handful of Patients [Good Morning America]