Most people who have high blood pressure need more than one class of drugs to lower their pressure. A beta blocker is one class of blood pressure drugs. Ace inhibitors and calcium channel blockers are two other classes. Each of these is often combined with another class of drugs, diuretics, to treat high blood pressure. So, how do you know you're using the right combination for you? Well, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that one combination is actually linked to a greater risk of heart trouble.
"Women on the combination of diuretic plus ace inhibitor had the lowest rate of cardiovascular deaths during the follow-up period, whereas women on the combination of diuretics plus calcium channel blocker had the highest rate," says Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, of Alber Einstein College Of Medicine.
This is the 6th year of a huge national study of post-menopausal women in which Dr. Smoller and her colleagues have been tracking more than 30,000 women over age 50. All had high blood pressure, but no history of heart disease. While clinical studies continue, Dr. Smoller recommends now that if you're a woman on a combination drug therapy, talk to your doctor. She says women should know why am I on this drug combination? Why do you think it's the right one for me? Dr. Smoller says that an individual woman's risk of cardiovascular death was actually quite low. The increased risk comes when you compare one drug combination to another. So older women taking calcium channel blockers plus diuretics are at relatively low risk of heart problems but they may be at greater risk than women taking combinations with beta blockers or ace inhibitors.
More evidence that stress at work could actually trigger a heart attack. A Swedish study of more nearly 1,400 heart attack patients finds specific work-related events may set off a heart attack. Sudden, short term increases in work load, a high-pressure deadline even competition at the office were all cited by researchers as potential heart attack triggers. The study is published in the British Medical Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.