Objectives Increased arterial stiffness occurs early in hypertension and is considered to play an important role in cardiovascular events. Xuezhikang, an extract of Cholestin, contains statin-like components. We hypothesized that Xuezhikang treatment can reduce arterial stiffness in patients with essential hypertension.
Methods 100 essential hypertension patients were prospectively enrolled to Xuezhikang group (1200 mg/day) and placebo group. Physical examination, lipid profiles, high sensitivity C reactive protein (hs-CRP), matrix metalloproteinases-9 (MMP-9), arterial stiffness parameters, including β, Ep, AC, AI and PWVβ measured by Echo Tracking technique, were measured at baseline and after 6 months’ therapy in all subjects.
Results 90 cases with completed data were selected at the end of the study. The Xuezhikang group (n = 46; age, 58.4 ± 10.0 years) and placebo group (n = 44; age, 57.1 ± 10.4 years) were well balanced with respect to clinical characteristics, use of medications, lipid profiles and arterial stiffness parameters. Xuezhikang group significantly reduced the levels of β, Ep and PWVβ from baseline (8.4 ± 3.1 vs. 6.8 ± 2.1, p = 0.007; 122.8 ± 43.9 vs. 100.7 ± 33.2, p = 0.009; 6.7 ± 1.2 vs. 6.1 ± 1.0, p = 0.013), but placebo group didn’t. There were significant reductions of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in Xuezhikang group (5.5 ± 0.7 vs. 5.1 ± 0.6, p = 0.013; 3.4 ± 0.6 vs. 2.9 ± 0.5, p = 0.001), but not in placebo group. Xuezhikang therapy also significantly reduced hs-CRP and MMP-9 from baseline [2.1 (0.4-10.0) vs. 1.4(0.3- 4.1), p = 0.020; 17.2 ± 2.4 vs. 12.7 ± 3.8, p<0.001], but placebo group didn’t. Of interest, the percent change of β, Ep and PWVβ in Xuezhikang group was significantly correlated with the percent change of hs-CRP or MMP-9 (r = 0.125, p = 0.039; r = 0.297, p = 0.038; r = 0.278, p = 0.030 respectively), but not with lipid profiles.
Conclusions 6 months’ Xuezhikang treatment in hypertensive patients can reduce arterial stiffness, independent of lipid lowering effects. It seems that several statins’ cholesterol-independent effects, such as anti-inflammation and reducing extracellular matrix degeneration, might play the role in improving arterial stiffness in patients with essential hypertension.
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