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Kidney Filters and High Blood Pressure

separator A small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shed light on why some people have high blood pressure. The study looked at the kidneys of 10 men who had died in accidents and had high blood pressure, and compared their kidneys with other accident victims of the same age, gender, height and weight who did not have high blood pressure.

The kidneys of the men without high blood pressure had two to three times more filters, called glomeruli, in their kidneys. The filters in the men with high blood pressure were also larger, which is a sign that the filters were working harder than usual.

The good news is that there are medications—ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers—that can lower blood pressure within the kidney filters.

This is also important news for pregnant women. Pregnant women who don’t eat enough protein are more likely to have a child who has fewer kidney filters.

New England Journal of Medicine, 9 January 2003
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