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Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) may also help lower blood pressure to a moderate extent, according to the results from a 6- month University of California, San Diego study. The researchers based their findings on 1016 men and postmenopausal women without known heart disease whose low-density lipoprotein (LDL; "bad") cholesterol levels were high.
During the study, the participants were randomly assigned to take simvastatin, pravastatin, or placebo. Blood pressure was measured before, during, and after the trial. Reporting the results at the recent American Heart Association annual meeting, the researchers explained that blood pressure was greatly reduced to a similar degree with both statin drugs. The change was evident 1 month after treatment and disappeared by 2 months after the medications were stopped. Specifically, the reduction witnessed was about 7 points for both the upper and lower readings.
Although the study had limitations, researcher Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, said the findings "may help to explain stroke reduction with statins, since LDL cholesterol bears little relationship to stroke risk, while blood pressure is a potent risk factor."