Common blood pressure drug may reduce coronary plaque

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WASHINGTON—Olmesartan, a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure, may play a role in reducing coronary plaque, according to the OLIVUS trial presented this week at the 20th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) scientific symposium.

The OLIVUS [Impact of OLmesartan on progression of coronary atherosclerosis; evaluation by intravascular ultrasound] trial was performed on 247 angina patients with native coronary artery lesions. The researchers randomly assigned patients to receive 20-40 mg/day of olmesartan or control, and treated with a combination of _-blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, nitrates, glycemic control agents and/or statins per physician’s guidance.

The investigators performed IVUS examinations to assess the amount of coronary plaque before and 14 months after the start of treatment.

At the start of the trial, patient characteristics and all IVUS measurements were identical between the two groups. However, after 14 months of treatment, IVUS showed significant decreases in measurements of plaque volume in the olmesartan group, despite similar blood pressure readings, according to the researchers.

In addition, they found that multivariate analysis identified olmesartan administration as one of the factors that caused the decrease in plaque volume.

“Management of plaque is a key front in the war on sudden heart attack," said the study’s lead author Atsushi Hirohata, MD, PhD, of the cardiovascular medicine department at the Sakakibara Heart Institute of Okayama in Okayama, Japan. “These results suggest a positive role in potential plaque regression through the administration of olmesartan, an angiotension-II receptor blocking agent, for patients with stable angina pectoris.”

Olmesartan (Benicar, Olmetec) belongs to the class of medicines called angiotensin II receptor antagonists to treat high blood pressure. It is marketed worldwide by Daiichi Sankyo of Toyko, Japan, and in the U.S. by Daiichi Sankyo and the New York City-based Forest Laboratories.