Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Blood Pressure Shot?

This is something entirely new and different under investigation. The problem with blood pressure medication is that it must be taken daily and forever. Daily and forever is rough, and people are reluctant to comply with this D&F business. And even if you do take those BP pills each morning, they are often long gone by the early a.m. hours of the following day when blood pressure rises in readiness for upgetting. As a result, early a.m. hours are the most common time for strokes and heart attacks, especially early Monday a.m.'s.

A Swiss company that apparently specializes in searching for vaccines for all that ails you (nicotine addiction, obesity, Alzheimer's, melanoma, etc) has developed a vaccine against angiotensin II, that pesky little molecule that constricts your blood vessels and causes a rise in blood pressure. Now if you happen to be dehydrated or hemorrhaging or slogging through the mall the day after Thanksgiving looking for Christmas gifts, a little angiotensin boost to the blood pressure assures that you will stay alive long enough to get water, blood, or a seat at Cinnabons. But if your kidneys are a little misguided and working overtime in the mistaken impression that your blood pressure is low, poof! angiotensin II is not a good thing.

Enter CYT006-AngQb (well they're going to have to come up with a new name, aren't they, if this shot ever has a shot at market popularity). This is a "viruslike particle-based conjugate vaccine that targets angiotensin II" meaning that it presents an angiotensin-ish sort of look-alike molecule to your immune system that then learns to personally dispose of too much of this bad boy.

In phase II trials, CYT006-AngQb was safe, well-tolerated, AND effective. Blood pressure fell a modest 5.6/2.8 points by day in the vaccinated group compared to those who got a painful placebo shot. That means those with elevated blood pressures of say 140/90 fell to about 134/87, a drop that would produce significantly less risk of heart attack and stroke over time. Better yet, the ones who got a real shot at the real shot experienced a wee hours BP drop of 25/13 so that those same hypertensives who registered BPs of 140/90 at study's start were mellowed down to 115/77 in the early a.m. 14 weeks later.

Ideal blood pressure is 115/75. Cardiovascular risk starts to rise with anything more than that. In case you were still laboring under the impression that 120/80 is okay, sorry, they've changed the rules on you! But soon, perhaps, you will have a shot at normal blood pressure, and you'll perhaps only need a booster every 4 months or so.


Mauigirl said...

This is very interesting - I had read about it also. I like the idea of not having to take the pills every day - for instance, we went away for a long weekend and I forgot to bring mine! Luckily my doctor is in RelayHealth and she was able to e-mail in a 5-day supply to the local CVS near where we were staying. But with a shot you wouldn't have to worry!

Femail doc said...

I have mixed feelings about shots for chronic diseases. What if you don't like the side effects and you're stuck with them for the duration? I am dragging my feet about recommending this new bisphosphonate shot called Reclast for osteoporosis. Good for a year, it is. That's a long time to not like it if you don't like it.

Mauigirl said...

Good point - you are kind of stuck with it, aren't you? I had a bad reaction to the ACE inhibitor I first started with - it gave me that totally annoying cough - and I agree it would not be a good thing if I was stuck with a symptom like that for a length of time. Although 3-4 months might not be that bad - I think I stuck it out that long on the pills until I finally decided it really was what was causing the problem. I kept thinking it was an allergy that I'd suddenly developed!