United States: According to a new study, adults who are suffering from obesity or are overweight and took the drug called tirzepatide, sold under the brand names- Zepbound for obesity and Mounjuro for diabetes, have had seriously lowered blood pressure.
About the newly conducted research
The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension on Monday.
It is part of a larger clinical trial, which had previously shown that weekly tirzepatide injections had resulted in weight loss of 22 percent in adults overweight or obese, which helped the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the drug for chronic weight management in November.
The drug maker- Eli Lilly has funded the research.
The researchers enrolled 600 adults from the larger clinical trial with a body mass index of 27 or more. The adults also did not have to have type 2 diabetes and had either normal or high blood pressure, which was under control.
All the participating adults had their blood pressure tested and made sure it was under control. Moreover, the blood pressure was monitored for a day before the beginning of treatment and again after nine months of administering tripeptide injections, as reported by CNN Health.
What did the results of the study show?
Study results revealed a major decrease in the participating adult’s systolic blood pressure, the top number in blood pressure readings, considered a strong predictor of heart disease.
The history of the participants showed that they all were taking 5 milligrams of tirzepatide weekly and had an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 7.4 mmHg, those taking 10 milligrams had an average reduction of 10.6 mmHg and those taking 5 milligrams had an average reduction of 8.0 mmHg.
A cardiologist at Yale University, who was not part of the research, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, stated, “An eight-point difference is really an impressive effect that rivals or exceeds many of our usual blood pressure medications,” CNN Health reported.
Dr. Michael E. Hall, the chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, not part of the research, said the original effect of tirzepatide on blood pressure might be more striking as most participants did not have high blood pressure situations, to begin with.
The working of Tirzepatide revealed in the findings of the research
The working of Tirzepatide involved mimicking the action of two varied gut hormones. After eating, when the blood sugar rises, the drug stimulates the body to produce more insulin, which leads to lowered blood sugar.
Additionally, it slows the motion of food from the stomach, which gives people the sensation of being fuller for a longer duration.
It works in a similar fashion as semaglutide, the active compound in the weight loss drug Wegovy, and its sister drug Ozempic, which is used for diabetes.
As per the study conducted last summer, Wegovy showed a reduction in heart attack risk and even in stroke and heart-related death in those who had heart disease and obesity or were overweight by 20 percent, reported by CNN Health.
According to the latest study, the reason for the significant reduction in blood pressure was not clear; it was either due to participants’ weight loss in the larger study or the medication.
Moreover, the study did not account for participants’ dietary intake, which could play a role in the results.
Need for additional studies for better results: Experts
Hall, who was the chairman of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s 2021 scientific statement on weight loss and Hypertension, said that additional studies will be required to determine tirzepatide’s effect on direct cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack and heart failure.
It is also necessary to assess whether the changes in blood pressure reverse after people stop taking the drug.
He also mentioned, “Overall, these data are encouraging that novel weight-loss medications are effective at reducing body weight and they are also effective at improving many of the cardiometabolic complications of obesity including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia, among others” CNN Health reported.
According to the AHA’s 2024 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, more than 47 percent of adults in the US are suffering from Hypertension, which means having blood pressure over 140/90 mmHg.
It also suggested that around 42 percent of adults are obese.
According to the American Heart Association, the diseases mentioned are closely associated with each other because obesity is the major cause of high blood pressure, whereas 75 percent of Hypertension is due to obesity.
Additionally, high blood pressure is the main risk factor for heart diseases such as coronary artery disease and stroke.
Dr. Ania Jastreboff, director of the Yale Obesity Research Center, who helped conduct the larger weight-loss trial, stated via email, “By treating one disease, obesity, we can potentially mitigate hundreds of other obesity-related conditions, including hypertension,” CNN Health reported.
Hall said that despite the presence of potent medications for blood pressure, only a quarter of people suffering from Hypertension have considerably controlled blood pressure.
According to him, it is often because of the people who don’t take their medicine. Finding a way to simplify and combine treatment for those diseases will make it easier for patients and doctors, too.
Krumholz mentioned that the hype for tirzepatide is mostly focused on its weight loss effect, but the real health benefit is lying downstream, which is weight loss leading to reduced blood pressure and increased ability to exercise resulting in better heart health.
He also saw the weight loss effect of the medicine as a pleasant side effect, which will make people more likely to have it.
Are healthy lifestyles not enough to combat obesity?
Krumholz further added that before tirzepatide and similar obesity drugs even existed, modifications in lifestyles were the main method to treat obesity.
According to experts, a healthy diet and more exercise are beneficial but often aren’t enough to combat the disease of obesity and our bodies’ evolutionary tendency to try to regain weight.
He said, “Patients would end up feeling bad about themselves and frustrated and guilty,” and added further, “These [drugs] represent almost a miracle. [People] can now take a medication that not only helps them lose weight but can improve their health,” as reported by CNN Health.
However, those new weight loss medications are hefty, and inadequate insurance coverage makes their access difficult for many eligible people, Krumholz said.
He also warned that when those barriers are addressed, then only the new treatments could contribute to worsening health disparities in the US.