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A new study finds high blood pressure was linked to lower risk of fibroids. KSChong/Getty Images
  • A new study finds that women with high blood pressure may have a lower risk of developing fibroids if they take medication for hypertension.
  • The report adds to growing evidence suggesting there’s a link between cardiovascular risk factors and uterine fibroids.
  • The study looked at over 2,500 individuals in their 40s and 50s.

Hypertension medications are associated with a lower risk of uterine fibroids in people with high blood pressure.

A new study, published in JAMA Network Open Tuesday, found that women who were newly diagnosed with hypertension in their 40s and 50s had a higher risk of uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors in the uterus.

The risk of being diagnosed with a fibroid decreases with hypertension treatment, such as ACE inhibitors.

The report adds to growing evidence suggesting there’s a link between cardiovascular risk factors, like cholesterol levels, and uterine fibroids.

But that relationship isn’t well understood.

“More research is definitely required in order to better understand the link between high blood pressure and fibroid development and thus put this into clinical practice,” Supreeti Behuria, MD, a cardiologist at Staten Island University Hospital, told Healthline.

Behuria is not connected to the study.

The study evaluated the health data of 2,570 participants, sourced from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, between the ages of 42 and 52 who did not have a history of uterine fibroids.

The participants were tracked from their enrollment in the study, which occurred between 1996 and 1997, all the way through 13 semi-annual follow-up visits, which were held between 1998 and 2013.

The participants had their blood pressure, biomarkers (which included (cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein), and physical measurements recorded at each medical visit. Additionally, they were asked whether or not they used medications to treat hypertension.

The research team also looked at fibroid diagnoses.

Over the course of the study, 20% (526 women) reported a new fibroid diagnosis.

The researchers found that, compared to people who did not have high blood pressure, those with untreated hypertension had a 19% greater risk of developing fibroids and those with treated hypertension had a 20% lower risk of getting a fibroid.

Of the group who had hypertension, those who sought treatment had a 37% lower risk of being diagnosed with fibroids compared to those who did not pursue treatment.

Those who took ACE inhibitors had a 48% lower risk.

In addition, compared to people who never had hypertension, those with new-onset hypertension had a 45% greater risk of being diagnosed with a fibroid.

According to the researchers, the findings highlight the relationship between cardiovascular health and the development of fibroids.

G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and lead OB/GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, says it’s important to understand that the report doesn’t describe how anti-hypertension medications might prevent uterine fibroids. Ruiz was not involved in the study.

“They just note that there is a correlation or association between being treated for hypertension incidence of uterine fibroids,” he said.

Prior research has similarly found that ACE inhibitors — a type of drug that relaxes the veins to lower blood pressure — were associated with 32% lower odds of being diagnosed with a fibroid.

Preliminary evidence suggests ACE inhibitors have this effect because of their involvement with the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone pathway, which is the pathway in the kidneys by which ACE inhibitors work to control blood pressure.

That said, it’s important to consider that hypertension medications do have side effects.

“The study does discuss the use of anti-hypertensive in preventing the development of uterine fibroids, however, anti-hypertensives do have side effects, such as, low blood pressure, decreased heart rate,” Ruiz said.

The researchers say the findings may inform future strategies to prevent uterine fibroids.

“Fibroid prevention is of course, extremely important, as the presence of fibroids can negatively impact a person’s quality of life, with the pain that comes from fibroids, and the bleeding and discomfort women experience,” said Behuria.

Additionally, more research is needed to better understand why blood pressure medication has this effect.

Hypertension medications are associated with a lower risk of uterine fibroids in people with high blood pressure. The report adds to growing evidence suggesting there’s a link between cardiovascular risk factors, like cholesterol levels, and uterine fibroids.