Image by Getty / Futurism

A rival to trendy weight loss drug semaglutide has been shown to drastically improve blood pressure after 36 weeks of taking the medication, according to a new study published in the journal Hypertension.

The active ingredient is called tirzepatide, developed by the big pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which the Federal Drug Administration approved a few months ago for weight loss under the brand name Zepbound. Tirzepatide already has approval as a Type 2 diabetes medication under the name Mounjaro.

For the study, an international team of scientists sponsored by Eli Lilly looked at the blood pressure of 494 patients at the start of the study and then measured their blood pressure at the 36-week mark, with readings done throughout a 24-hour period for more granular data.

Of the cohort, 155 received a placebo while the rest got tirzepatide at varying amounts of 5, 10 or 15 milligrams dosage.

The results at the end of the study were significant. Participants on tirzepatide experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure — that's the first number in a blood pressure reading, which gauges the pressure inside arteries during a heartbeat — of anywhere between 7.4 to 10.6 millimeters lower versus being in the placebo group.

Results were more mixed for the bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, which measures pressure between heart beats. It showed a smaller decrease -- except at the highest dose of tirzepatide, which was associated with a small increase.

Doctors have long focused on the systolic number because a higher reading of the systolic is correlated with increased stroke and heart disease.

Whether the lowered blood pressure was directly caused by the tirzepatide or a side effect of the weight loss it caused is an open question.

"One could also hypothesize that weight loss permitted more exercise or improved sleep/reduced sleep apnea, any of which could ‘additionally’ lower blood pressure," said University of California, Los Angeles doctor and cardiac researcher Benjamin Ansell, who wasn't involved in the research, told The New York Times.

Regardless, Eli Lilly may look at this study as a feather in its cap as it tries to take on rival Novo Nordisk, which makes semaglutide and markets it under Ozempic for diabetes management and Wegovy for weight loss.

Big money is riding on these studies because Novo Nordisk is now the most valuable company in Europe due to the popularity of semaglutide — as well as substantial public health benefits, if research keeps showing positive health outcomes to the new drugs.

More on weight loss drugs: The Pharma Company Making Ozempic Is Worth Five Times What OpenAI Is

Share This Article