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Statins Lower Cholesterol, Modestly Reduce Blood Pressure

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Updated September 15, 2013

Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications used to lower cholesterol in the United States. While they affect all aspects of your lipid profile, a study has found that statins can affect another risk factor for cardiovascular disease: high blood pressure.

While high cholesterol levels can result in atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque in the arteries, it isn’t usually linked to causing strokes. High blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease, has been known to cause strokes if left uncontrolled.

Do Statins Lower Blood Pressure?

The study examined close to 1,000 individuals in southern California. These subjects did not have any chronic conditions, but had high LDL cholesterol (ranging between 113 to 190 mg/dL). They either took Zocor 20 mg, Pravachol 40 mg, or a placebo, and were followed for eight months.

The researchers found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were modestly lowered in these individuals taking either statin. Both statins were able to slightly lower systolic blood pressures by 2.2 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.4 mmHg. It also appeared that Zocor lowered blood pressures slightly more than Pravachol. Once the statins were stopped, blood pressure readings returned to what they were before the study.

The Bottom Line

Although very slight, this study suggests that statins may have the ability to lower blood pressure. Most of the individuals in this study had normal to slightly high blood pressures. So we really don’t know how statins would work in individuals with higher blood pressures who need to take medications for it. Besides lowering cholesterol, statins are already known for reducing plaque formation, lessening inflammation, and stabilizing plaques that have already accumulated in vessels.

However, until we have more information, don’t ditch your blood pressure medications in favor of statins. For now, save your statins for your cholesterol and your antihypertensive medications to lower your blood pressure.

Source:

Golomb BA, Dimsdale JE, White HL. Reduction in blood pressure with statins. Arch Inter Med 2008;168:721-727.

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