High blood pressure drug eases vessel stiffness, lowers systolic pressures

DALLAS, May 28 The first of a new class of drugs reduces blood pressure better than the well-known ACE inhibitors and appears to reverse some of the vessel stiffness thought to be an inevitable part of aging, researchers say in a Rapid Track report from Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a relatively short-term study, weve shown that this drug has a significant effect on the stiffness of the most central of blood vesselsthe aortawhich is the biggest artery in your body, says lead author Gary F. Mitchell, M.D., a cardiologist and president of Cardiovascular Engineering, Inc., of Holliston, Mass. The aorta carries blood from the hearts left ventricle, down the center of the body and out to all the organs.

Vessel stiffness causes an increase in systolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the upper number in the blood pressure reading and indicates the blood pressure when the heart is contracting. Diastolic pressure, the bottom number, reflects the pressure when heart is resting.

Up to 50 million people in the United States have high blood pressure and over 90 percent of those people have elevated systolic pressures, which is predominantly due to increased stiffness of the larger arteries. Furthermore, only 25 percent of all patients have their blood pressure controlled with currently available medication, says Mitchell.

Up to this time, weve only had limited understanding of how various blood pressure lowering drugs affect arterial stiffness, he adds. Large artery stiffening was thought to be a natural irreversible part of aging. This study clearly demonstrates that the stiffness in large arteries can be reduced and that the reduction in stiffness is beyond what would be seen using drugs that lower blood pressure by other mechanisms.

Researchers studied 167 patients with moderate high blood pressure in a 12-week double-blind trial called Conduit Hemodynamics of Omapatrilat International Research Study (CHOIRS).

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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