Statins may help control blood pressure

Researchers in the States say that statins, the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, may also lower blood pressure.

They say this possibly helps to explain why statins have been shown to prevent strokes as well as heart attacks.

The researchers from the University of California, in San Diego, say patients who were given two different types of statins had modest but rapid declines in both their top and bottom blood pressure readings.

According to Dr. Beatrice Golomb the author of the study, it is clear they make a consistent but modest improvement which may be especially important for explaining the stroke benefits of statins.

By lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol which can clog up arteries and cause heart attacks, statins help prevent heart disease.

Dr. Golomb says though LDL cholesterol has never been consistently shown to be related to stroke, statins have been shown to lower stroke risk in many studies, whereas blood pressure, is a very powerful contributor to stroke and this may help explain some of the reduced risks of stroke.

Statins are currently the world's top-selling drugs, and in addition to the cardiovascular effects, the drugs have been shown to have some unexpected benefits, such as lowering the risk of death from influenza, pneumonia and the effects of smoking.

Scientists suspect this may be because the drugs affect the amount of inflammation in the body.

Golomb says while other research which suggested statins improved blood pressure were intriguing there were no major, rigorously conducted trials showing this effect.

For the study Dr. Golomb and her team studied statins use and blood pressure in almost 1,000 people who were divided into three groups:-

One group were given the statin drug simvastatin (Zocor), another group were given pravastatin (Pravachol) and a third group were given a placebo.

Golomb says it took one month of treatment before the effect of both statins began to emerge.

She says the drugs reduced both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure by 2 to 3 millimeters of mercury compared with the placebo.

Golomb says though the size of the effect was modest, it was statistically very significant.

Six months, after people were taken off the drugs and checked again two months later, those benefits had disappeared.

High blood pressure typically produces no symptoms but can lead to serious health problems including stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

It can up to a point be controlled by lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising more, reducing salt intake, quitting smoking and by taking drugs.

The research is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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