Stroke risks linked to blood pressure drugs
A "FIRST-line" anti-high blood pressure drug is leaving patients at far greater risk of suffering strokes than if they take other medication for the condition, according to a major study.
People taking the commonly prescribed beta-blockers had a 16 per cent higher chance of stroke than if they took other drugs to treat high blood pressure, according to the findings by Swedish researchers. One particular beta-blocker, atenolol, was found to be associated with a 26 per cent higher stroke risk.
Medical experts warned yesterday that patients should not stop taking beta-blockers, which are beneficial for a range of other conditions. But an editorial in the medical journal the Lancet said the current endorsement of the drugs should be changed.
A team of researchers led by Professor Lars Hjalmar Lindholm, from Umea University Hospital, Sweden, pooled together data from 13 trials involving more than 105,000 patients.
In a further investigation involving 27,500 patients from seven studies, the scientists found that those taking beta-blockers were only 19 per cent less likely to have a stroke than those having no treatment at all. This was about half the benefit expected from previous trials.
The Lancet said: "It will be interesting to see how the many guideline committees respond to the latest information."
Alison Shaw, a medical spokeswoman at the British Heart Foundation, said: "People taking beta-blockers should not consider stopping or changing their medications on the basis of this study.
"However, they could discuss the other options for successful blood pressure lowering with their doctor."
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