Atorvastatin improves elasticity of small arteries and reduces blood pressure

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Patients with severe hypercholesterolemia who take atorvastatin not only reduce their total and LDL cholesterol but also have an improvement in small artery elasticity and blood pressure, Israeli researchers report.

Dr. Dov Gavish and colleagues from the Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, studied 17 patients with LDL cholesterol levels greater than 170 mg/dL. These patients had never received hypolipidemic therapy and did not have any risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Gavish's group gave doses of atorvastatin adjusted to lower LDL cholesterol to under 100 mg/dL. By the end of the trial the mean dose of atorvastatin was 16 mg/day.

As expected, there was significant improvement in lipid profile during the 20-week trial. While HDL cholesterol levels did not change significantly, there were significant changes in total cholesterol, reduced by 35%, LDL cholesterol, reduced by 47%, and triglycerides, reduced by 16%, the researchers report in the November issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.

There were also changes in vascular parameters. Large artery elasticity increased by a nonsignificant 3% to 8% (p = 0.3). However, small artery elasticity increased significantly by 21% (p < 0.01), Dr. Gavish's team found.

Although none of the patients were hypertensive, blood pressure decreased significantly during the trial. Average systolic blood pressure dropped by 6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure dropped by 3 mmHg (p < 0.05), the investigators report.

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