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Weight loss medicine may also reduce blood pressure, study finds

Nearly half of Americans have or are being treated for high blood pressure as it's one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Weight loss medicine may also reduce blood pressure, study finds
Posted at 7:37 AM, Feb 05, 2024

A new study released by the American Heart Association found patients who took weight loss drugs made with tirzepatide had a significant drop in blood pressure. 

The findings were published Monday in the journal Hypertension. 

The study followed 500 adults for eight months who had obesity and took the medication for 36 weeks. It measured the blood pressure results of those taking 5-milligram, 10-milligram and 15-milligram doses of the drug. 

Those who took 5 milligrams of tirzepatide had an average systolic blood pressure reduction of 7.4 mm Hg; those who took 10 milligrams had an average systolic blood pressure reduction of 10.6 mm Hg; and those who took 15 milligrams had an average systolic blood pressure reduction of 8 mm Hg.

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Researchers said the decreased blood pressure was evident during the day and at night. They added that nighttime blood pressure is a stronger predictor for cardiovascular death and all-cause death compared to daytime blood pressure.

“Our findings indicate treating obesity with the weight loss medication tirzepatide may be an effective strategy for preventing or treating high blood pressure,” said lead study author Dr. James A. de Lemos. “Although tirzepatide has been studied as a weight loss medication, the blood pressure reduction in our patients in this study was impressive. While it is not known if the impact on blood pressure was due to the medication or the participants’ weight loss, the lower blood pressure measures seen with tirzepatide rivaled what is seen for many hypertension medications.”

Tirzepatide is the active ingredient in several weight loss medications, including Zepbound, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in November for weight loss.  

Tirzepatide is among a group of medications known as GLP-1 agonists that were initially prescribed to help manage Type 2 diabetes but have gained popularity to help patients manage weight. 

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, these drugs help manage blood sugar levels by triggering insulin release from the pancreas. The drugs also help slow digestion, which causes less glucose to enter the bloodstream. The medicine also affects satiety, allowing patients to feel full after eating, the Cleveland Clinic said. 

The new study had several limitations, including how much of an impact changes in diet had on participants' blood pressure. 

“Additional studies will be necessary to determine the long-term impact on cardiovascular events such as heart attack and heart failure. Also, studies are needed to investigate what happens to blood pressure when medications like tirzepatide are discontinued — does the blood pressure rebound and go back up, or does it remain lowered?” said Michael E. Hall, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypertension was a primary or contributing cause of 691,095 deaths in the U.S. in 2021. 

Nearly half of U.S. adults either have hypertension or take medication to lower their blood pressure. Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg. 

Of the nearly 120 million Americans with high blood pressure, 37 million have uncontrolled hypertension with a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

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