Blood pressure drugs for everyone?!
Researchers are recommending that blood-pressure-lowering drugs be given to everyone, regardless of actual blood pressure level.
Could it be that they have ties to Big Pharma?
I should know by now not to read the news while enjoying my morning cup of tea. Because this morning, I nearly ended up owing my publisher a new keyboard.
The culprit was this absolutely ridiculous headline: “Give Blood Pressure Drugs to All.”
That’s right—after reviewing 147 clinical trials for a meta-analysis, researchers determined that blood-pressure- lowering drugs should be taken by everyone over 55. No matter what your blood pressure level is now, the researchers say, it needs to be lower!
In fact, they say your doctor shouldn’t even bother testing your actual blood pressure level before writing out the prescription. Yep. Just pop the pills and trust that you’re doing your part to save your heart.
Never mind the fact that these drugs can cause some pretty serious problems. Taking ACE inhibitors can lead to kidney failure. Beta-blockers (which, by the way, are proven to lower blood pressure but NOT your risk of heart attack or stroke) can cause dizziness and impotence. And calcium channel blockers can actually INCREASE your risk of heart attack.
Or the fact that some hypertension experts are calling the meta-analysis flawed. One critic said it lumps in too many different kinds of trials involving too many different populations, skewing results. Another said the researchers made too many assumptions in order to make these drugs look better than in any other review ever done.
Drs Malcolm R Law and Nicholas Ward, who carried out the meta-analysis, actually envision a “polypill” incorporating not one but THREE blood-pressure-lowering drugs, a statin, aspirin, and folic acid. A formula, it turns out, they hold patents on.
One critic of the meta-analysis actually said that Law and Wald had put together an “unusual compilation of data” that supports the unlikely hypothesis that their “magic polypill” can reduce heart disease and stroke by 90%. Hmm…everyone over 55 taking the pill you hold a patent on…
Should have seen where this was going…I mean, why else would you recommend people start dosing themselves with such high-risk medications unless you could make a buck off it?
“Give blood pressure drugs to all.” Medscape (www.medscape.com), 5/22/09.