Major new study finds long-acting calcium channel blockers inferior to other antihypertensive drugs

Up to 85,000 unnecessary heart attacks and cases of heart failure may occur worldwide every year among the estimated 28 million users of longer-acting calcium channel blockers (CCBs), a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, according to the results of a study reported today at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Amsterdam.

The combined analysis of nine randomized clinical trials, with a total of more than 27,000 patients, showed that the longer-acting CCBs are inferior to other proven and less expensive drugs in preventing the cardiovascular complications of hypertension.

The study was conducted at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, the University of Washington-Seattle, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.

"The results are remarkably consistent across the trials," said Marco Pahor, M.D., professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest and the study's lead researcher. "In the CCB-treated patients, the risk of a heart attack was 27 percent higher, the risk of heart failure was 26 percent higher and the risk of any major cardiovascular event was 11 percent higher. There was no difference in stroke or total mortality; and there was no evidence of differences among the CCBs tested."

The results add to a growing body of evidence that antihypertensive drugs, despite having equal effect on blood pressure, may vary in their ability to prevent heart attacks and congestive heart failure, said Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and a co-researcher of the study.

"The overuse of these less effective CCBs -- which can cost 10 to 15 times more than diuretics -- is a major avoidable clinical problem that requires immediate attention," Furberg told the cardiology society meeting in Amsterdam. The study examined the results of nine long-term trials involving 27,743 patients, with a total of about 120,000 person-years

Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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