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Battle of the High Blood Pressure Drugs

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According to a press release on the subject, the NHLBI is advising high blood pressure patients who take an alpha-blocker to consult with their doctors about a possible alternative. If a patient is just starting drug treatment, an alpha-blocker may not be the best choice for initial therapy. Other alpha-blockers in the same class as Cardura are Hytrin and Minipres. Ford doesn't say their recommendations apply to all alpha-blockers, but just that Cardura was chosen as a "representative member of that class of drugs."

But that's not the same as throwing the baby out with the bath water. "The last thing we would want to suggest is that patients should stop this drug," Jackson T. Wright Jr., MD, a vice-chairman of the study's steering committee told WebMD in a previous interview. "Patients need to contact their doctor to make sure they're on the best therapy for their high blood pressure." He says the findings do not necessarily mean the drug should not be used to control blood pressure, and they do not address the use of the drug for the prostate, a primary use. Wright is also a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Louis Lasagna, MD, of Tufts University Medical School in Boston, called the findings "persuasive" with "important implications" in an accompanying editorial. He adds that, all else being equal, the diuretic, a very inexpensive drug, "appears to be a better choice than [Cardura]."

Pfizer, the manufacturer of Cardura, in a written statement has supported "the NHLBI decision to discontinue the Cardura arm" of the study.

Vital Information:

 

  • According to a new study, an alpha-blocker drug, called Cardura, is less effective for treating high blood pressure than the diuretic chlorthalidone, and Cardura does not protect patients from developing heart failure as well as the diuretic.
  • Patients taking Cardura, or other alpha-blockers Hytrin and Minipres, may want to consult with their physician about treatment, but these findings do not mean a patient should be taken off these medications.
  • Researchers cannot explain these study results, but suggest that people with high blood pressure try diuretics first.
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