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News1998November › Hypertension drugs may cause heart problems › November 1998

Hypertension drugs may cause heart problems

Conventional treatment of high blood pressure is failing to prevent men from dying from heart disease in fact, it may even be increasing the risk of heart problems

Conventional treatment of high blood pressure is failing to prevent men from dying from heart disease in fact, it may even be increasing the risk of heart problems.

Beta blockers, diuretics or combination treatments are not effective in preventing coronary heart disease, a major study involving 22 years of follow up has concluded. The researchers controversially conclude that the standard treatments may be adversely affecting a patient's metabolic rate, which could increase the cardiovascular risk.

This Swedish study is the first to track the effects of hypertension treatment for such a long period. It involved 686 men, aged between 47 and 55 years, who were suffering from high blood pressure. They were tracked for 22 years from 1970, and their health was compared with 6,810 men who were not hypertensive at the start of the trial.

The hypertension group had a far higher death rate, and the major cause was coronary heart disease, even though they all had been treated for their condition with standard treatment to reduce their blood pressure.

The study also found that stroke was another major killer among the hypertension group, so questioning a long held belief that hypertension treatment could at least reduce the risk.

The researchers suggest that perhaps treatment started too late, and that organ damage had already occurred before medicine had a chance to intervene (BMJ, 1998; 317: 167-71).

High blood pressure may be caused by junk food. Salt, blamed as the usual culprit, may after all be a red herring. Instead, suggests an article in a scientific journal, point the finger at salty snacks and sweet drinks that have no mineral or vitamin value (Science, 1998; 281: 933-4).


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