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Healthy Heart Reports

Beta Blockers And Alpha Blockers, Drugs Used To Treat High Blood Pressure, Increase Risk For Diabetes, Obesity And Heart Attacks

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that beta blocker drugs used to treat high blood pressure increase risk for diabetes (1). A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that alpha blockers increase risk for heart attacks in people with high blood pressure (2).

Beta blockers have been the drugs of choice to treat high blood pressure because they help prevent heart attacks, even though they often cause terrible tiredness, inability to exercise, impotence and obesity. This recent study adds diabetes to its list of side effects. Alpha blockers are used to treat high blood pressure, particularly in men who have enlarged prostates because it also helps relieve their urinary obstruction, but now we learn that they increase risk for heart attacks.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, go on a low-fat diet and start an exercise program to help you lose weight. There is no evidence that low-salt diets control high blood pressure. If that doesn't reduce your blood pressure to normal, I think that thee drugs of choice are angiotensin II receptor antagonists. If your blood pressure is still high, add a calcium channel blocker.

BETA BLOCKERS: Betapace, Blocadren, Brevibloc, Cartrol, Inderal, Kerlone, Levatol, Lopressor, Sectral, Tenormin, Toprol, Zebeta.
ALPHA BLOCKERS: Cardura, Dibenzyline, Hytrin, Minipres.
CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS: Adalat, Calan, Cardizem, Covera, Dilacor, DynaCirc, Isoptin, Nimotop Norvasc, Plendil, Procardia, Sular, Tiazac, Vascor, Verelan

1) NEJM March 30, 2000.

2) JAMA. 2000;283:1967-1975


Copyright 2000
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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