NEW YORK (Dec. 12, 2007) -- Telmisartan, a drug widely used to help control blood pressure, may have uniquely potent activity in preventing stroke, according to a new study conducted in an animal model.
Whether they used the drug alone or in combination with a different type of antihypertensive medication, ramipril, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers found that rats fed a high-salt, stroke-inducing diet were completely protected from the brain attacks while on telmisartan.
"No other study has ever shown complete protection against stroke in this rat model using normal human drug doses" notes study senior author Dr. Daniel F. Catanzaro, professor of physiology and biophysics and professor of physiology in cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.
The study, which was funded by telmisartan's German maker, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co., is published online in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension.
Telmisartan (brand name Micardis) is one of a class of widely used antihypertensive drugs known as angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). "These drugs primarily act on the vasculature to relax the small blood vessels," Dr. Catanzaro explains.
Telmisartan stands out from other ARBs in that its molecular structure allows it to more easily pass through the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain -- something many drugs cannot do.
The new animal study was not constructed to specifically look at telmisartan's effect on stroke. "Because blood pressure is closely related to stroke risk, we really just wanted to look and see if combinations of antihypertensive drugs were better at lowering blood pressure and stroke compared to the use of single agents," Dr. Catanzaro explains.
In this case, his team tested two drugs -- telmisartan and an ACE inhibitor, ramipril (Altace) -- in a rat model long favored by stroke researchers. In this approach, rats are fed what's known as a
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New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College