A recent study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and elsewhere found that a common drug used to treat overactive bladder could increase LDL cholesterol (or ‘bad’ cholesterol) in the blood.
They found this drug could be linked to atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque around the artery wall.
This could accelerate the growth of plaque in arteries. In addition, the plaque also became less stable. Plaque is a common cause of cause heart attack and stroke.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). One author is professor Yihai Cao at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology Karolinska Institutet.
The main substance in the drug is called mirabegron. It can relax the muscles of the bladder by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system in the brain.
In their study, the researchers treated mice with the drug. The animals received doses the same as those given to humans.
They found that the drug increased the blood levels of the lipoproteins LDL, which can cause atherosclerotic plaques in arteries.
In addition, it affected fat tissue in mice, activating the brown fat and triggering the conversion of white fat to brown-like fat.
The team says that the drug may potentially increase the risk of heart disease or affect the flow of blood to the brain, causing strokes.
Since the study was conducted on mice, the results are not directly transferable to humans.
But in light of a recent study has found that the drug can activate brown fat in people, and the team believes that there is already reason to raise a warning finger.
They suggest that patients with heart disease or atherosclerosis should be careful when using this drug, as it could accelerate the growth of plaque and make it less stable.
In addition, people with gene mutations that make it difficult for the body to get rid of LDL may be particularly sensitive because the drug increases levels of LDL in the blood.
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