April 11, 2008 -- Chalk up another potential benefit to taking statins. A newly released study shows that the cholesterol-lowering drugs also help to lower blood pressure. Study authors say it's the first time research has shown that statins work this way in the body.
Researchers looked at 973 men and women in southern California. The participants had no known heart disease or diabetes. Participants were given either Zocor, Pravachol, or a placebo every day for six months.
Statins and Blood Pressure
People who took either one of the two statin drugs had a "modest, but significant" reduction of blood pressure when compared with the group who took a placebo pill.
"We found that statins lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and that the effect extends to patients with pre-hypertension, with normal blood pressure, and persons not on blood-pressure lowering medications," according to a news release from study researcher Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD.
Golomb is with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Statins are one of the best-selling prescribed drugs in the world, used mainly to treat high cholesterol. But physicians have long observed that the health benefits obtained from statin use seem to be more rapid than could be explained from the effects of these medications on plaque accumulation. The blood pressure reduction effect could prove to be part of the answer.
Lower blood pressure is linked to lower stroke risk. Study authors suspect that one of the ways the use of statins is helpful in reducing stroke is through the blood pressure effect.
Golomb and her team recommend more research, looking into how different types of statins might work, plus how different dosages and a longer treatment time may affect blood pressure.
The study is published in the April 14 edition of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.