Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health
Although best known for its ability to improve hair growth when used on the skin, minoxidil — which is classified as a potassium channel opener — was initially marketed as a vasodilator, and an oral formulation is sometimes prescribed for high blood pressure that has not responded to other medications. Earlier studies have suggested that minoxidil may increase elastin even in mature tissues.
A study published in American Journal of Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology found that minoxidil, which is sold under the brand name Rogaine, makes stiff vessels more flexible and improves blood flow to vital organs like the brain.
Organs in young animals are flexible because they contain a protein called elastin. But elastin is produced only during development, and it is slowly lost with aging. As elastin is lost, arteries stiffen.
Stiff arteries contribute to high blood pressure. They also significantly increase the risk of sudden death, stroke, myocardial infarction and cognitive decline. Most treatments try to reduce high blood pressure, but until now, no medication has been shown to increase the development of elastin in mature human tissue.
Researchers used animal models of hypertension and chronic vascular stiffness associated with WS and SVAS. They used ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging to measure the impact of minoxidil on vessels, arteries, cerebral blood flow, and gene expression.
“Equally important, these beneficial changes persisted weeks after the drug was no longer in the bloodstream. The sustained improvements and the increased elastin gene expression suggest that minoxidil treatment may help remodel stiff arteries. Such remodeling may benefit humans whose elastin insufficiency is due to either advanced age or genetic conditions,” he said.