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News1998September › Damned if you do, damned if you don't › September 1998

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

People who are successfully treated for high blood pressure with drugs such as beta blockers or diuretics are still more likely to die from heart disease

People who are successfully treated for high blood pressure with drugs such as beta blockers or diuretics are still more likely to die from heart disease.

Hypertensive patients were 1.6 times more likely to die from any disease, despite medication, than people with normal blood pressure. And coronary heart disease claims twice as many victims. An even higher percentage died due to a stroke.

This discovery is significant because it emerges from the first long term study of hypertensive patients.

In the first decade of treatment, mortality levels in the two groups remained fairly even. Only during the second decade of treatment did the differences became apparent.

The study was started in Gothenburg in 1970 among 686 hypertensive men, aged between 47 and 55, who were compared with 6,810 healthy men.

The discovery has confounded the researchers. They suggest the difference may be due to earlier organ damage, general lifestyle differences, or possibly some effect of the drugs. The trial began too early to test the newer hypertension drugs such as the ACE inhibitors (BMJ, 1998; 317: 167-71).


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