Frusemide, marketed as Furosemide, is a diuretic, which helps the body remove excess water from the blood.
A diuretic is especially useful in cases of heart failure when the pumping action isn't effective for a while. It's also used in cases of liver failure, hypertension and poor circulation in the arms and legs.
It doesn't come without risks. In removing excess water, the drug also causes potassium and sodium levels in the blood to fall, and this sudden drop can trigger heart problems.
The drug should only be used with extreme caution in diabetics, and patients with kidney failure. Despite this, frusemide is one of the drugs of choice in virtually every case of acute kidney (renal) failure.
When researchers investigated the use of frusemide among kidney patients, they discovered that the diuretic not only has no clinical benefit, it can also cause deafness and tinnitus in the patient.
But don't expect any change in treatment any time soon.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: 420-3).
E-news broadcast 31 August 2006 No.288 [Subscribe]