Hypertension drug lessens swelling caused by traumatic brain injury

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Sep 21, 2015 08:03 AM EDT

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 05: (EDITORS NOTE: Personal data has been pixelated). A doctor speaks with a patient about her high blood pressure, or hypertension, on September 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Doctors in the country are demanding higher payments from health insurance companies (Krankenkassen). Over 20 doctors' associations are expected to hold a vote this week over possible strikes and temporary closings of their practices if assurances that a requested additional annual increase of 3.5 billion euros (4,390,475,550 USD) in payments are not provided. The Kassenaerztlichen Bundesvereinigung (KBV), the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, unexpectedly broke off talks with the health insurance companies on Monday. (Photo : Adam Berry/Getty Images)

A drug mainly used by hypertension patients has been discovered to reduce the inflammation caused by the body after suffering from traumatic brain injury, a new study reports.

A minimal dose of hypertension drug telmisartan can help reduce the inflammation in the brain which will enable it to heal after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study published in American Journal of Pathology states that TBI causes the body's blood, liver and other organs to produce an inflammatory response after the brain injury. The liver is said to greatly increase protein production by a thousand fold which in turn causes inflammation to the brain which will lead to nerve cell death and blood flow restriction.

"This study established a connection between the peripheral regions and the brain, highlighting the importance of regulating the peripheral damage when trying to mitigate the consequences of brain injury," said Prof. Sonia Villapol, lead researcher from GUMC, in a report by Medical News Today.

Prior to the findings of the study, Villapol stated that TBI treatment is only restricted to rehabilitation and supportive care.

"To date, treatment of TBI consists of supportive care and rehabilitation because there has been no way to reduce the inflammatory damage that occurs right after head injury trauma and continuously thereafter," she said, via News Medical. "And our findings suggest a treatment for both the brain and body would play a critical role in this chronic inflammatory response."

Another hypertension drug, candesartan, together with telmisartan could help improve TBI outcomes if given hours after the injury. According to a press release published in Eureka Alert, six hours after the brain injury, the drugs reduced inflammation, bleeding, neuronal death in the brain. In one to three days, the blood flow was also improved.

"The earlier study also demonstrates the potential, in terms of time-to-treatment, for use of the drugs in humans," said Villapol. "Waiting six hours before using the drugs is realistic, given the timeframes that most patients receive treatment at an emergency room."

Villapol added that the hypertension drugs studies could benefit TBI patients if clinical trials were to be held.

"These studies pave the way for clinical trials of these drugs in TBI patients," she explained.

According to Mayo Clinic, TBI results from a violent impact to the head or a foreign object or shattered piece of skull lodged to the brain. The most common events that can cause TBI include sports injuries, vehicle collisions, combat injuries, falls, and violence to name a few.

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