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Newer Blood Pressure Drugs Beat Out Older Ones

Findings Contradict Previous Studies Showing Older Is Better

Blood Pressure or Something Else?

But overall, people who took Norvasc achieved blood pressures that were only about three points lower than those on beta-blockers, setting off a debate about whether blood pressure lowering or other factors are at play.

Researcher Neil Poulter, MD, professor of preventive cardiovascular medicine at Imperial College London in England, says blood pressure by itself can only explain 15% to 35% of the benefits seen in people taking Norvasc.

"There is unlikely a single explanation for why it worked so well, but it seems likely there are advantages beyond blood pressure lowering," he tells WebMD.

But Robert Bonow, MD, professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and past president of the American Heart Association, says, "This is primarily a blood pressure-lowering effect. Every study on hypertension has shown that even a small drop in blood pressure improves outcome."

Take-Home Message: Talk to Your Doctor

Tim Gardener, MD, a clinical professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and an AHA spokesman, says, "We need to rein in a little enthusiasm about which drugs or combination of drugs is used."

Most importantly, he tells WebMD, "is that you individualize the treatment, arriving at the best drug or combination of drugs that treat that person's hypertension."

Patients can arm themselves with this new information and talk to their doctors about which blood pressure drug is best for them. Taking this, and previous information into account, doctors can best choose which treatment is best for their patients.

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