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

Do Some Blood Pressure Drugs Up Heart Risk?

Study: Calcium Channel Blockers May Not Work as Well in Women as Other Drugs
WebMD Health News

Dec. 14, 2004 -- One common type of blood pressure drug may not work as well as others at preventing heart death, a new study shows.

The data comes from women aged 50-79 enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). It's the same study that showed hormone replacement therapy to be less effective and more risky than previously thought. Now the study shows a higher risk of heart death in women who take blood pressure drugs known as calcium channel blockers.

Calcium channel blockers include, but are not limited to, drugs sold under the brand names Norvasc, Plendil, DynaCirc, Cardene, Procardia XL, Adalat, Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac, Diltia XL, Isoptin, Calan, Verelan, and Covera-HS.

Researcher Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, heads the epidemiology division at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Bronx, N.Y. The findings appear in the Dec. 15 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We found that [high-blood-pressure] therapy combinations that contain the calcium channel blockers were associated with a higher risk of death from heart disease than were other combinations," Wassertheil-Smoller tells WebMD. "Doctors should be cautious with prescribing any drugs, but particularly with this one. Doctors may have a very good reason for giving a patient a calcium channel blocker, but it should not blindly be given."

Don't Stop Taking Blood Pressure Drugs

Should people stop taking these drugs? No, Wassertheil-Smoller says. Why not? It's dangerous to stop taking any prescribed medicine -- blood pressure drugs in particular -- before seeing one's doctor.

Current treatment guidelines say that all approved blood pressure drugs are safe and effective. The new findings do not change those recommendations, says American Heart Association spokesman Daniel Jones, MD, dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.

"The bulk of clinical trials show calcium channel blockers are safe and effective at lowering blood pressure," Jones tells WebMD. "Our current guidelines focus on lowering blood pressure and not much on what class of drugs you use to do that. This study, while intriguing, doesn't do anything to change that."

Twofold Higher Death Risk

The study looked at more than 30,000 women with high blood pressure but no history of heart disease. Some of the women took only one kind of blood pressure drug:

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