GI Dangers of Using Benicar

Weight loss may be a desirable outcome when dieting or exercising, but when it occurs because your body is no longer absorbing nutrients sufficiently, you could be in for a world of hurt. As pointed out in the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, rapid weight loss can be dangerous to your health.

Weight loss is one of the side effects of using Benicar and other drugs that contain olmesartan because of a condition called sprue-like enteropathy. Benicar is primarily an antihypertension drug. The symptoms of this medical condition are very similar to celiac disease, in which the afflicted trigger an immunological response when they ingest gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. This response systematically damages the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and over time results in what is referred to as villous atrophy. At this point, the GI tract is so damaged that the body can no longer absorb food nutrients.

In sprue-like enteropathy, villous atrophy can still develop, but it is not triggered by the presence of gluten. This has been determined in studies of several patients who presented with celiac disease symptoms but were negative for the standard test for immunoglobulin A anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody or IgA-tTG. The link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy was initially suggested by researchers at the Mayo Clinic which had treated 22 patients between 2008 and 2010 who had the condition and were all taking Benicar. One patient had such severe GI damage that he was hospitalized for 100 days and must now use a feeding tube.

Sprue-like enteropathy develops over time and the risk rises sharply after the first year of using Benicar, but the studies did not find the same effect in patients using other drugs in the same class (sartans, also known as angiosten II receptor blockers) or other antihypertensive drug classes. This suggests that olmesartan is unique in producing this side effect. If the condition is diagnosed early enough, the damage can be minimized.