Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Popular Blood Pressure Medicine May Do More Harm Than Good

WebMD Health News

Aug. 29, 2000 (Amsterdam) -- A highly popular but expensive type of blood pressure medication may be responsible for an excessive number of heart attacks and cases of heart failure. Although the drugs, known as long-acting calcium channel blockers, effectively lower blood pressure as well as less expensive alternatives, a new study shows that they do not prevent the cardiovascular complications of high blood pressure.

Use of any of the long-acting calcium channel blockers leads to about 40,000 "unnecessary or excess" heart attacks in the U.S. each year and about 85,000 "excess events" worldwide, Marco Pahor, MD, tells WebMD. Pahor, a professor of medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., headed the team of researchers who wrote the new study.

There are several different brands of these drugs on the market, but among the better known are Procardia XL, Norvasc, Cardizem CD, and Adalat CC. The annual cost of high blood pressure treatment with these drugs, which are taken daily, ranges from $740 to $990 a year. That, says Pahor, is much more expensive than treatment with another kind of drug called a diuretic that can cost only about $60 a year.

One of the reasons for the big difference in cost is that long-acting calcium channel blockers are only available as brand-name drugs, while the other, more effective blood pressure drugs -- diuretics, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors -- are available in generic formulations, says Pahor.

The researchers analyzed data from nine studies that compared the outcomes of patients taking a calcium channel blocker to the outcomes of patients treated with other drugs to treat high blood pressure. All 27,743 patients included in the nine studies had high blood pressure (also called hypertension), meaning a blood pressure of more than 140/90.

They found that people taking long-acting calcium channel blockers had a "27% higher risk of heart attack and 26% higher risk of congestive heart failure than did persons taking diuretics, beta-blockers, or ACE inhibitors," Pahor says.

The findings were presented Tuesday at an international cardiology meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, by Pahor's colleague, Curt D. Furberg, MD, PhD, who is a professor of public health at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections