Dropping Beta-Blockers, Adding New Drugs to Fight Blood Pressure in UK
July 15, 2006
New guidelines from the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advise over 1.5 million people using beta-blocker drugs to treat high blood pressure to switch to newer treatments.
The guidelines advise patients to ease off the drugs and doctors to no longer prescribe beta-blockers as the "first-line" therapy because they perform less well than the newer treatments, particularly among the elderly, and may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and type 2 diabetes.
The preferred treatment, according to NICE, is now a combination of calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors and diuretics. Research has shown that this combination of drugs, which helps regulate the hormonal system and open blood vessels, may decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 50 percent, as compared to the older drugs.
Beta-blockers are still considered the best treatment for young women who may become pregnant, and the new guidelines do not apply to those who take the drugs for angina and anxiety.