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    Drug Delays High Blood Pressure

    Study Shows Atacand May Delay Development of Full-Blown High Blood Pressure

    Atacand and Hypertension Risk continued...

    For two years, half the participants were given Atacand and the other half, a placebo. Then for the next two years, they all were given placebo. All the participants also got diet and exercise counseling throughout the four-year study.

    During the first two years, people on Atacand were two-thirds less likely to develop high blood pressure.

    During the second two-year period with all participants taking placebo, there was still a significant difference in high blood pressure rates between the two groups, although it wasn't as large. The participants who had originally been on Atacand were 16% less likely to develop high blood pressure than the original placebo group after four years.

    The risk of side effects was low in both groups.

    Postponing High Blood Pressure

    "The bottom line," Julius says, "is that if you treat early, the drug is well-tolerated and you can postpone hypertension. Two years of treatment with Atacand gives you one year of extra protection."

    That said, "the effect was moderate and we need to improve on it," he says.

    James H. Stein, MD, co-chairman of the cardiology meeting and associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, agrees.

    While Stein says he found the 16% difference in hypertension rates disappointing, "the hypothesis is still alive."

    The problem may have been that treatment wasn't started early enough, he tells WebMD.

    "It's wishful thinking that starting medication when a person already has a blood pressure reading in the 130s will allow them to later go off their medication without consequence," he says. "Maybe if we started a person on treatment when their reading was still in the 120s, hypertension could be better forestalled or prevented."

    Julius agrees, and hopes he gets funding to perform such a study.

    While only Atacand was tested in this trial, Julius says he suspects that other blood pressure drugs would also work.

    The study, called the Trial of Preventing Hypertension or TROPHY study, was funded by AstraZeneca, which makes Atacand. AstraZeneca is a WebMD sponsor.

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