Accumulating evidence suggests that ginkgo biloba is cardioprotective, in part, through its vasodilatory and antihypertensive properties. However, definitive data on its blood pressure-lowering effects in humans is lacking.
We determined the effects of ginkgo biloba extract (240 mg/day) on blood pressure and incident hypertension in 3,069 participants (mean age, 79 yrs; 46% female; 96% White) from the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory study. We also examined whether the treatment effects are modified by baseline hypertension status.
At baseline 54% of the study participants were hypertensive, 28% were pre-hypertensive, and 17% were normotensive. Over a median follow-up of 6.1 years, there were similar changes in blood pressure and pulse pressure in the ginkgo biloba and placebo groups. Although baseline hypertension status did not modify the antihypertensive effects of ginkgo biloba, it did influence the changes in blood pressure variables observed during follow-up, with decreases in hypertensives, increases in normotensives, and no changes in pre-hypertensives. Among participants who were not on antihypertensive medications at baseline, there was no difference between treatment groups in medication use over time, as the OR (95% CI) for being a never-user in the ginkgo biloba group was 0.75 (0.48–1.16). The rate of incident hypertension also did not differ between participants assigned to ginkgo biloba vs. placebo (HR, 0.99, 95% CI, 0.84–1.15).
Our data indicate that ginkgo biloba does not reduce blood pressure or the incidence of hypertension in elderly men and women.