Drug Combos May Be Unsafe

FEBRUARY 01, 2005

Older women who take diuretics with calcium channel blockers may be increasing their risk of death, compared with taking diuretics plus beta-blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. The findings are based on a study of >30,000 women reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 15, 2004). The 6-year study included 30, 219 women aged 50 to 79 with hypertension but no history of cardiovascular disease, including 18,969 who were taking at least 1 blood pressure drug.

The number of heart-related deaths was small—specifically, 31 out of 1223 women taking the calcium channel blocker combination, versus 18 out of 1380 on the beta-blocker combination and 17 out of 1413 on the ACE inhibitor combo. Lead author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, advised women on the first 2- drug combination to speak with their physicians about why they prescribed calcium channel blockers.