BP drug combination cuts down sudden heart attack deaths

September 17th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Sep 17 (IANS) By simply modifying a drug regimen, thousands of patients of high blood pressure could avert the risk of sudden cardiac deaths.Current US hypertension treatment guidelines recommend using a thiazide diuretic - a drug that increases the volume of urine - alone as the initial drug therapy for high blood pressure (BP).

But the failure of diuretic drugs to decrease heart attack deaths, an important outcome of hypertension, prompted Vanderbilt University Medical Centre researchers to analyse data from existing clinical trials of diuretic drugs.

Thiazide diuretics successfully reduce BP in many patients, but they are also known to deplete potassium, said John Oates, co-author of the research and senior professor of medicine at Vanderbilt.

This potassium “wasting” has sparked concern over the years with studies suggesting a link between potassium loss and sudden cardiac death.

Researchers found that combining a thiazide diuretic with a “potassium-sparing” drug to treat BP, reduced both sudden cardiac death and cardiac mortality by 40 percent. The findings call into question the current treatment guidelines. “The recommendations can now be re-examined in light of these new findings,” said Oates.

Oates and colleagues examined data from controlled clinical trials that compared a thiazide diuretic/potassium-sparing (ENaC inhibitor) drug combination to placebo.

They generated new, previously unpublished data on sudden death in these trials, and then analysed the results of the trials in a meta-analysis - a statistical evaluation of data combined from multiple trials.

They found a 40 percent reduction in total cardiac mortality and in sudden cardiac death in elderly patients with hypertension taking the drug combination compared with those receiving placebo.

These findings are scheduled for publication in September-October issue of the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension.

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