New Guidelines Warn Against Calcium Channel Blockers in Certain Patients

OCTOBER 01, 2004

Recent guidelines from the New American College of Chest Physicians alert practitioners to the potentially fatal effects of prescribing calcium channel blockers for patients with unstable pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). While those drugs are commonly used for treating high blood pressure, these new, evidence-based guidelines warn against empiric use in patients unresponsive to acute pulmonary vasodilator testing due to an increased risk of adverse and possibly fatal side effects. Members of the expert panel who determined these new guidelines recommend that physicians conduct genetic testing on patients who have a family history of PAH, as well as advance screening for patients with chronic diseases that may predispose them to PAH. (The findings were reported in Chest, July 2004.)