Hypertension: Beta-blockers effective in combination therapies

Jan 19, 2010

Using beta-blockers as a second-line therapy in combination with certain anti-hypertensive drugs significantly lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension, according to a systematic review by Cochrane Researchers. This review also goes some way to explaining the differences in the way that patients respond to beta-blockers and other classes of blood pressure lowering drugs.

Beta-blockers are commonly used in the treatment of hypertension () to help reduce the risk of and . They can be used alone or as a second-line therapy in combination with a wide range of anti-hypertensive drugs. The idea behind combining two different drugs to treat hypertension is that each has a different mechanism of action and thus may help tackle different mechanisms involved in causing the condition. In this way, greater decreases in blood pressure may be achieved than with single drug therapy.

The review included 20 trials involving a total of 3,744 patients. Overall, the researchers found that adding beta-blockers as the second-line drug, in combination with thiazide diuretics or calcium channel blockers, caused an additional blood pressure reduction. The reduction was around 30% greater when the dose was doubled.

This data was compared with a Cochrane Review published in Issue 4, 2009 that examined the blood pressure lowering effect of second-line thiazide diuretics. They concluded that the two drugs produced different patterns of blood pressure lowering. Second-line beta-blockers were found to be more effective at reducing diastolic blood pressure (the minimum pressure in the arteries between beats when the relaxes to fill with blood) but had little or no effect on pulse pressure, while second-line thiazides significantly decreased pulse pressure in a dose-related manner.

"We feel that these findings are generalisable to most patients being treated for where a beta-blocker is added as a second-line drug to a first-line thiazide," said lead researcher, Jenny Chen, who works in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. "The finding that beta-blockers produce a different pattern of blood pressure lowering to thiazides when used as second-line drugs certainly deserves further attention as it might explain why beta-blockers appear to be less effective than thiazide diuretics at reducing adverse cardiovascular outcomes, particularly in older individuals."

"The major limitation of this work is that we only know what happens when you add beta-blockers to thiazides and calcium channel blockers. It is possible that adding to other classes of drugs might produce a different result," said Chen.

Explore further: FDA approves second vaccine against meningitis strain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Beta-blockers given the boot in Britain

Jun 28, 2006

British doctors are being advised not to prescribe beta-blockers and to ease most current users off them and onto new treatment for high blood pressure.

High blood pressure pill cuts risk of Parkinson's disease

Feb 06, 2008

People taking a widely used group of drugs known as calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure also appear to be cutting their risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the February 6, 2008, ...

Heart failure treated 'in the brain'

Mar 25, 2008

Beta-blockers heal the heart via the brain when administered during heart failure, according to a new study by UCL (University College London). Up to now, it was thought that beta-blockers work directly on the heart, but ...

Recommended for you

Medical charity warns India over patent rules

Jan 21, 2015

Doctors without Borders on Wednesday warned the Indian government not to bow to US pressure to amend patent regulations that allow millions access to affordable medicines, ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama.

Why are some generic drugs getting so expensive?

Jan 21, 2015

More than eight out of every 10 prescriptions dispensed in the US is generic. This growth is due to a large number of top-selling drugs going off patent over the past decade, as well as innovations in t ...

Supreme Court sides with Teva in drug dispute

Jan 20, 2015

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in the company's high-profile patent dispute with rival firms over the top-selling multiple sclerosis drug.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.