Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Patients May Have Increased Risk of Low Blood Pressure

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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In a new study entitled “Under-recognition of Low Blood Pressure Readings in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” researchers determined for the first time how blood pressure is affected in patients with duchenne muscular dystrophy. They report a significant portion of DMD patients exhibit low blood pressure, and highlight the need for clinicians to be aware of this tendency so that patients can be medicated appropriately. The study was published in the journal Pediatric Cardiology.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a hereditary disorder characterized by degeneration, atrophy, and weakness of both skeletal and cardiac muscle. Patients usually pass away in young adulthood due to premature cardio-respiratory failure. However, studies reporting how DMD impacts patients’ blood pressure are currently lacking.

In this new study, a research team sought to determine whether DMD affects patients’ blood pressure control. The authors performed an observational study with 31 DMD patients attending the cardiology clinic at Rush University Medical Center. The authors registered 104 outpatient clinical visits in total, during which they registered patients’ demographic data, systolic, diastolic, mean blood pressures and echocardiograms as well as their use of medications.

The team found that 61% of DMD patients exhibited low blood pressure, with 38.7 % patients registering low blood pressure recordings in two or more successive visits. Despite this, patients did not report any symptoms of dizziness or syncope. From the pool of patients, being Hispanic appeared to be one of the predictors for low blood pressure, but patients in wheelchairs also exhibited  low blood pressure as well. The authors also identified that half of the patients with low blood pressure were prescribed heart failure medications. Notably, the team highlights that clinicians’ awareness of their patients’ low blood pressure was identified in only 10.6 % of the cases.

The authors report an under-recognition of low blood pressure among DMD patients and that  pediatric and Hispanic patients are significant predictors for this phenotype. Despite this, the team recognizes study limitations, including a low number of analyzed cases (although their initial pool of DMD patients included 103, the analysis was restricted to those attending cardiology clinics, ending with a small sample size), therefore additional studies with a larger patients cohort is necessary to corroborate their findings.