January 27th, 2011
By: Deborah Huso
About 74.5 million Americans over the age of 20 suffer from high blood pressure, a health concern that is a silent killer and has been on the rise over the past fifteen years.
And a study, published in this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the world’s top blood pressure drug, hydrocholorothiazide, may not be as effective as once thought.
Alternatives, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, have been found to be at least 45 percent more effective at knocking down an individual’s “top” blood pressure number. Researchers found ACE inhibitors dropped the top blood pressure number by 12.9 points, while beta blockers knocked off 11.2 points.
While, hydrocholorothiazide mainly address fluid and sodium levels, ACE Inhibitors and beta blockers are responsible for relaxing the blood vessels. Beta blockers also affect the pumping action of the heart.
“Basically what it comes down to is the recipe that is right for you,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of the New York University Women’s Heart Program and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, commenting on the study.
Goldberg told AOL Health that patients should talk to their doctors if they have questions or concerns about the effectiveness of their medicine. High blood pressure medicines should not be stopped without first talking to a physician, she said.
Hydrocholorothiazide is “not useless, but it may not be as great as previously thought,” said Goldberg.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute currently recommends hydrocholorothiazides as a first line of defense against high blood pressure. In some cases, another medicine may be used in addition to hydrocholorothiazide.
Dr. Franz Messerli, study researcher and head of the hypertension program at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York, believes that when doctors prescribe hydrocholorothiazide, it gives patients a false sense of security. “Hydrocholorothiazide should no longer be used alone,” he told Reuters.
Hydrocholorothiazide drugs are sometimes sold under the brands HydroDIURIL, Aquazide H or Chlorthalidone.