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High blood pressure

Beta blocker drugs now considered public health hazard

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: high blood pressure, beta blockers, dangerous drugs


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(NewsTarget) -- New evidence showing that beta blocker drugs increase patients' risk of strokes, heart attacks and diabetes has led to 2 million Britons being taken off the blood-pressure drugs.

A 2005 study found that beta blockers cut a patient's risk of stroke by 20 percent, whereas newer treatments are shown to prevent 40 percent of strokes and 15 percent more heart attacks. The study results led the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to issue new prescribing guidelines. The new recommendations now make drugs such as ACE inhibitors, diuretics and calcium channel blockers the first choice for treatment.

Researchers say the newer drugs are more effective and less dangerous than beta blockers, and don't have any of the side effects, which include loss of libido, fatigue and impotence. "We know that the drugs now being prescribed have fewer side effects and are more effective [than beta blockers]," said Professor Graham McGregor of the Blood Pressure Association. "We will be saving thousands of patients from suffering strokes, heart attacks and heart failure."

Though beta blockers will gradually be phased out as a blood pressure treatment for most people, they are still recommended as the main treatment for angina.

None of the mainstream news coverage about high blood pressure drugs mentions natural, healthy alternatives such as cod liver oil, omega-3 fatty acids or celery juice. The entire debate remains framed in a false choice among prescription drugs that exhibit varying levels of harm.

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