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Beta blocker drugs now considered public health hazard

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June 28 2006

(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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I believe everything my doctor tells me. Doctors are scientists and they know everything about everything. So NEVER doubt what science dictates. My blood pressure was dangerously high 142/78 pulse 80; my doctor said I was at risk for a heart attack and I could die! I was prescribed Simvastatin for my cholesterol, Bystolic and Ex-Forge for my high blood pressure. I've been on the medication for three days now and I feel so relieved that I'm no longer at risk for a heart attack or stroke! My doctor SAVED my life! My doctor told me, "I want you to invite me to your 100th birthday." I'm 66 and I believe I may just live to be 100 with what modern medicine has to offer.

Hi A couple of years ago my blood pressure went up and I was put on the ACE and Statins. I also lost weight, changed my diet and took up regular exercise. Two years on my blood pressure was stil high, and the side effects from the Statins became awful, ie, muscle loss, no stamina, jounts aching, loss of balance, forgetfulness, unclear vision. Basically I was ageing at an accelerated rate. Against my doctors advice, I stopped taking all the medications. Within a week the side efects diminished, and YES my blood pressure came down by 20 systolic and 10 diostolic and 10 pulse pressure. In my opinion these drugs are more about trillions of dollars profit. In other words I never needed these drugs in the first place. Diet and exercise are far more effective.

From What Doctors Don't Tell you (forwarded by a friend in Canada):

The great myths you must know about your high blood pressure

Millions of Britons and America woke up today to the news that beta blocker drugs they're taking for their high blood pressure (hypertension) are suddenly not safe. Drug watchdogs in the UK have announced “out of the blue” that the drugs may cause heart attacks, the very thing they are supposed to prevent.

Instead, doctors should be prescribing newer generations of antihypertensives such as ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers which are supposed to be far safer.

But research from What Doctors Don't Tell You reveals that hypertension treatment is one of the most dubious areas of medicine, riddled with misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatments, and myth.

• DIAGNOSIS MYTH No. 1: High blood pressure is a permanent condition. It's not. Your blood pressure reading fluctuates dramatically throughout the day especially if you are about to see your doctor for a blood pressure reading! Indeed, it's not uncommon for blood pressure to change by as much as 30 mmHg in a typical day, especially if you're under stress or if you’ve been exercising.

• DIAGNOSIS MYTH No. 2: Any blood pressure that is 'high' is a danger. That's not so. Mildly high blood pressure is not dangerous if you are over 55 years of age. It's a natural process, and the drugs are far more dangerous than the condition at that stage. A reasonable blood pressure reading for an older person is 140/90.

• DIAGNOSIS MYTH No. 3: Blood pressure diagnosis is accurate. Actually, it's hopelessly inaccurate. Prof William White at Connecticut University has described it as "medicines crudest investigation".

• TREATMENT MYTH No. 1: ACE inhibitors are the answer to hypertension. They’re not. ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are increasingly seen as the new front-line treatment for hypertension, even before the UK drugs watchdogs came out against the beta blockers. They're often given to patients who have just suffered heart failure for the very reason that they don't affect blood pressure.

• TREATMENT MYTH No. 2: Then try calcium-channel blockers. This class of drugs is almost as popular as ACE inhibitors. They work by relaxing and dilating the blood vessels, so reducing blood pressure. But they're not a cure-all for everyone. They can cause serious skin disorders, and diabetics shouldn't take them. One Swedish study found that the drugs increased the risk of suicide, and one of the calcium-channel blockers is so dangerous that doctors in America have been told to stop prescribing it.

• TREATMENT MYTH No. 3: At least diuretics are safe. A diuretic is seen as a safe drug without any adverse effects. It's effectively a water pill, and it encourages the body to expel excess water, which, in turn, reduces blood pressure. Unfortunately, the drugs are linked to an 11-fold increase in diabetes, a condition that can be far more dangerous than high blood pressure.

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