Good news for those looking to reduce blood pressure levels. The results of a recent manufacturer sponsored clinical trial suggest that combining a new blood pressure lowering drug with an existing one offers some pretty impressive benefits.
The drug, Novartis’s AHU377 is a member of a new class of medications known as vasopeptidase inhibitors – you may have heard of an earlier drug of equal promise, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s omipatrilat, however that was found to have a dangerous side effect – swelling of parts of the body, including the throat.
AHU377 thankfully doesn’t display this side effect, but it’s not a very powerful medication alone. By combining this new medication with an existing drug – Diovan also from Novaritis – the blood pressure lowering effects were far better, significantly boosting the effects of Diovan.
The combination of the two types of drugs creates a new molecule: an ARNI or “dual-acting angiotensin II-receptor and neprilysin inhibitor”.
Researchers tested the new combination (known as LCZ696) on 1,328 adults aged 18 to 75 living in eighteen different nations.
The participants had mild to moderate hypertension, on average 156/100 (normal is 120/80, or less) and were randomly assigned to one of eight treatment groups for the eight week long study.
At every dose tested LCZ696 enhanced the blood pressure lowering effect of Diovan.
The dose that will be used for further clinical trials is 200 milligrams. If these studies bring similar results, the systolic reading (top number) of the subjects will drop by as much as 11 points. Diastolic reading (bottom number) will drop by as much as 6.14 points.
Diovan alone has been shown to bring systolic blood pressure down by 5.69 points; diastolic pressure down by 3.17 points – so you can see quite a difference in the readings when the medications are combined. Best of all, those taking LCZ696 had no more side effects than those taking the placebo.
Experts believe that LCZ696 works in two ways. Part of the job it does is to block a protein (angiotensin-2) from binding to a receptor protein on cells, so cells don’t constrict, leading to hypertension. The drug also keeps a troublesome compound in check, allowing the substance called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP for short) to be produced by the heart and circulate to induce the kidneys to flush salt and water – a completely natural, already built-in blood pressure controller, without diuretic side effects.
Medications aren’t the only way to bring those numbers down. There are other things, all within your control and entirely natural, that you can do to help yourself:
– Losing weight cuts your systolic reading by 5 to 20 points for every 22 pounds you lose.
– Regular exercise cuts systolic pressure by 4-9 points.
– The DASH diet (low in fat, high in veggies and fruits) cuts systolic blood pressure by 8 to 14 points.
– Limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks a day (men) and one drink a day (women) reduces systolic blood pressure by 2-4 points.
Almost 75 million American adults have high blood pressure, and this condition continues to be a major health threat all over the world.
Anyone can have it, especially if you have a family history of the disease, if you smoke or are obese or diabetic.
The good news is that to reduce blood pressure or at least control it, a combination of both medication and lifestyle changes can be very successful.
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