Hypertension Treatment Found to Relieve PTSD Symptoms

A hypertension medication was reported as being effective for treating post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, according to the results of a new study.

Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), a medication used for hypertension, were reported as being effective for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry.

Paul J. Marvar and his colleagues at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta gave ARB losartan to mice with brain activity similar to PTSD. The researchers observed immediate and long-term effects on fear memory and anxiety. After being treated with losartan, they analyzed the mice’s extinction behavior, gene expression fluctuations in the brain, and neuroendocrine and cardiovascular reactions.

By administering ARB losartan to mice, the investigators discovered an immediate and long-term improvement in the PTSD mice’s extinction of fear memories. However, the treatment had no effect on fear acquisition, baseline anxiety, blood pressure, and neuroendocrine stress measures in PTSD mice.

Fear extinction is a process in which the brain replaces a fear-associated memory with one that is not problematic in nature. The findings of this study mean a common treatment may prove beneficial in decreasing the influence of this phenomenon, which affects many PTSD sufferers.

While the psychiatric community has long eyed angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and ARBs, Marvar, an assistant professor at George Washington University and the study’s lead author, said their study confirms speculations.

“It is exciting to see the renin-angiotensin being explored in new ways in the search for new treatment for PTSD,” John Krystal, MD, the editor of Biological Psychiatry, said in a statement. “There is a tremendous need for more effective treatments for PTSD symptoms.”