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Beyond Lipid Lowering: The Anti-Hypertensive Role of Statins

Abstract

Introduction

The management of the hypercholesterolemic patient has evolved tremendously with the introduction of the HMG-CoA Reductase inhibitors, a class of drugs better known as the statins. Statins modify cholesterol metabolism by inhibiting the rate-limiting enzyme of cholesterol biosynthesis, producing greater decreases in plasma cholesterol levels than previously realized with hypolipidemic therapy. With the advent of the classic statin-megatrials such as the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S), WOSCOPS, CARE, and the more recent Heart Protection Study (HPS), the role of statins in both the primary and secondary prevention and ultimate risk reduction of patients with coronary disease has been firmly established.

Discussion

With an increase in use and popularity, a number of beneficial actions of the statins unrelated to their cholesterol-lowering ability have been reported. These effects have generated greater interest in the possible additional roles and indications for the use of these drugs. Of central focus in this paper is the cholesterol-independent benefit of this group of agents on the cardiovascular system, particularly on the lowering of systemic blood pressure. A number of hypotheses have been proposed for this action and these shall be reviewed within this paper.

Conclusion

We explore recent data that suggests that statins may provide substantial reduction of blood pressure in the hypertensive, hypercholesterolemic patient independent of their lipid-lowering effect. In addition, we review several notable publications that postulate unique mechanisms for this action and benefit. We also present plausible explanations as to why some of the larger statin trials did not report similar such findings.

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Correspondence to Vineet Chopra.

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Chopra, V., Choksi, P.U. & Cavusoglu, E. Beyond Lipid Lowering: The Anti-Hypertensive Role of Statins. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther 21, 161–169 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10557-007-6025-3

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Key words

  • cholesterol
  • blood pressure lowering
  • endothelium
  • statins
  • pleiotropic
  • review