A study of the weight loss drug tirzepatide showed that people who took it had significantly lower blood pressures after 36 weeks of using the medication.
Tirzepatide, made by Eli Lilly, is used to treat Type 2 diabetes, under the brand name Mounjaro, and to treat obesity, under the brand name Zepbound. It is the latest among a new class of weight loss drugs, and its chief competitor is semaglutide, made by Novo Nordisk and sold as Ozempic for diabetes and as Wegovy for weight loss. For both drugs, researchers have been assessing whether they have additional effects that go beyond weight loss.
The blood pressure study, supported by Eli Lilly and published on Monday in the journal Hypertension, was part of a larger effort to assess tirzepatide’s effects on weight loss. Researchers had already found that people who took the drug had lower blood pressures when readings were taken in a doctor’s office. The new study applied a more rigorous criteria: Did participants taking the drug have lower pressures when measured with a 24-hour monitor?
They did. Those taking the drug had systolic blood pressures — the pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts — that were from 7.4 to 10.0 millimeters of mercury lower than those of participants taking a placebo. Systolic pressure is believed to be an accurate predictor of heart disease risk.
The blood pressure reduction, said Dr. James de Lemos, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the lead author of the study, is about what would be expected with a full dose of a blood pressure medicine. As such, he said, the drug can be useful for people trying to control their pressure and reduce their heart attack and stroke risk (although the study does not suggest tirzepatide be substituted for other blood pressure medications).
But, he noted, it was not possible to distinguish the effect — if any — that the drug had on blood pressure from the well-known effect that weight loss has on reducing blood pressure.