Common Heart Drug May Block Atherosclerosis
Fagerberg, who was not involved in the study, explains that metoprolol decreases death rate in patients with heart attack, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Animal experiments also have indicated that metoprolol helps reverse the effects of atherosclerosis. Fagerberg is a professor of medicine at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Göteborg, Sweden
In Berglund's study, the group taking fluvastatin had a 75% reduction in progression of carotid artery wall thickening. As fluvastatin and metoprolol seemed to work at different sites along the carotid artery, they might be used together for greater effect to prevent heart disease and strokes, Berglund suggests.
Beta-blockers such as metoprolol also may work directly on the brain to reduce stress, Berglund explains, which possibly plays an important role in aggravating atherosclerosis.
Metoprolol's effect on lowering blood pressure might be another mechanism that slows development of atherosclerosis, explains Toshifumi Mannami, MD, a cardiologist at the National Cardiovascular Center in Japan.
"Our results from our laboratory were that there are strong and significant relationships between carotid [wall] thickening and blood pressure," says Mannami, who was not involved in Berglund's study.
"The study provides new information that will help us to better understand the underlying disease processes," Fagerberg says. "Further studies are needed to confirm the results and to establish how they should be applied to treatment of the individual patient."