Lower Blood Pressure Linked To Statins

An article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
reports that statins – medications that are usually prescribed to lower
blood cholesterol levels – may also lower blood pressure. Beatrice A.
Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., (University of California, San Diego, La Jolla)
and colleagues noted a modest but significant reduction in blood
pressure for patients taking statins.

Statins are a type of drug that inhibits an enzyme involved in the
synthesis of cholesterol, and thus leads to a decrease in blood
cholesterol levels. Previous research has found that blood pressure may
also be affected by statins, specifically for patients with high blood
pressure (hypertension). It has been hypothesized that statins trigger
compounds that make blood vessels wider, improving their

To test the effect of statins on blood pressure, the researchers
conducted a randomized, double-blind trial with 973 participants who
did now have diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Over a period of six
months between 2000 and 2004, the researchers told 322 participants to
take 20 milligrams of the statin simvastatin, 323 participants to take
40 milligrams of the statin pravastatin, and 328 participants to take
placebo. The statin amounts were taken from usual doses from when they
are prescribed to lower cholesterol. At the beginning of the study, the
researchers took blood pressure measurements of each participant.
Additional measurements were taken after one and six months during the
treatment period, and also two months after ending treatment.

Blood pressure is conventionally reported using two numbers: systolic
(top number) over diastolic (bottom number). The researchers found that
individuals who took the statin had an average decrease of 2.2 mmHg in
systolic blood pressure and an average decrease of 2.4 mmHg in
diastolic pressure. The authors note that, “Blood pressure reductions
ranged from 2.4 to 2.8 milligrams
of mercury for both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood
pressure with both simvastatin and pravastatin, in those subjects with
full follow-up and without potential for influence by blood pressure
medications (i.e., neither receiving nor meriting blood pressure

The authors, however, found that the effect of statins changed over
time. After one month of statin treatment, there was no noticeable
effect on blood pressure. But there was a significant effect after six
months of treatment, and the effect decreased two months after
finishing treatment.

“This study adds to our understanding of the effects of statins,
currently the best-selling prescription drugs in the world,” conclude
the researchers. “The reduction in blood pressure seen with statins may
contribute – among other identified factors – to some of the ‘rapid’
cardiovascular benefits of statins, arising too swiftly to be explained
by effects of statins on plaque accumulation.”

Reduction in Blood Pressure With Statins
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD; Joel E. Dimsdale, MD; Halbert L. White,
PhD; Janis B. Ritchie, BSN; Michael H. Criqui, MD, MPH
Archives of Internal Medicine
(2008). 168[7]:
721 – 727.
Here to View Abstract

Written by: Peter M Crosta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *