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General Health Channel
Reported December 28, 2007

Blood Pressure Drug Protects Against Stroke

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – A popular blood pressure drug could one day be used to prevent strokes.

A new study from Weill Cornell Medical College finds when rats on a high-salt, stroke-inducing diet were given telmisartan (Micardis) by itself or along with another blood pressure drug – the ACE inhibitor, ramipril (Altace) – they were completely protected from stroke.

Telmisartan part of a class of commonly used antihypertensive drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) that relax the small blood vessels. Unlike other ARBs telmisartan’s molecular structure allows it to pass through the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain more easily – something many drugs cannot do.

Researchers gave 25 rats a stroke-prone diet for eight weeks. The rats also got either no medication, telmisartan alone, ramipril alone, or the two drugs together at either a full- or half-dose.

“A main finding was that combination therapy did reduce blood pressure the best of any treatment, and it also was best at cutting damage to the rats’ hearts and kidneys,” senior author Dr. Daniel F. Catanzaro, Weill Cornell Medical College, was quoted as saying. “But what was really surprising to us was that any regimen involving telmisartan at doses that would normally be given to humans completely prevented stroke in this model. Most studies with other drugs have used much higher doses and have found only partial protection.”

Results show 83-percent of rats given no medication and 56-percent of those given ramipril alone showed signs of stroke. But there were no strokes in the rats on telmisartan or in the group taking the combination of the two drugs.

Researchers believe the neuroprotective benefits are probably due to the way telmisartan’s can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier – something ramipril cannot do.

The study was funded by the German maker of telmisartan - Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Society of Hypertension published online December 2007

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