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Bradykinin is a peptide found within the body that helps to enlarge or open blood vessels. This lowers blood pressure and allows blood to flow more smoothly throughout the body. Many brands of blood pressure lowering medications help to enhance bradykinin production or to keep it from lessening within the body due to certain conditions.
Medical professionals have noted that bradykinin helps to make soft muscle tissue, such as blood vessels, more permeable and allow it to contract and open up. By understanding the body’s own mechanisms for controlling blood pressure, scientists may discover newer and safer ways of treating high blood pressure in patients with chronic conditions.
The discovery of bradykinin was led by Dr. Mauricio Rocha e Silva, along with other researchers in Brazil. At the time they were studying the effects of circulatory shock, primarily that brought on by enzymes commonly found in venom. They discovered it in the plasma of certain animals after being introduced to the venom of a Brazilian lancehead snake, and the resulting effects on blood vessels was noted. This also led to a better understanding of how certain toxins invade the bloodstream so quickly. They generally induce production of bradykinin within the body, thus allowing the venom to circulate more quickly.
In some instances, use of bradykinin-related hypertension drugs, also called ACE inhibitors, may cause a chronic dry cough. This is the number one reason why patients discontinue use of ACE inhibitor drugs. Other medications being offered do not cause this reaction, but they are not as effective, and thus only recommended for those with mild hypertension. Unless the cough becomes severe, patients with chronic or severe hypertension may be advised to continue taking ACE inhibitor medications, sometimes in lowered dosages.
Researchers have also noted a link between an overproduction of bradykinin and the development of hereditary angioedema. Drugs have been created to inhibit production, and have proven effective. There are also natural ways to slow down bradykinin production, including pineapple leaves and stems, polyphenols, and aloe. A doctor should be consulted before large amounts of these substances are consumed, primarily those with high blood pressure.