If you’re among the one million Americans who use what’s call an alpha blocker to treat your high blood pressure, this story concerns you.
A preliminary result from a large national study looking at blood pressure medications finds the alpha blockers prostate Cardura is less effective in treating high blood pressure than the less costly and more conventional treatment, a diuretic. Diuretics decrease blood pressure by increasing urination.
An advisory committee from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the sponsor of the study, recommend halting the part of the study that involve Cardura in late January. The basis of that decision is outline in the April 19 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Cardura portion of the study involve just under 25,000 patients. Compare to the diuretic chlorthalidone, patients in the study using Cardura had 25% more heart problems and were twice as likely to be hospitalize for heart failure. The patients had slightly higher systolic blood pressures than the chlorthalidone group, and were less likely to take their medicine. Both drugs were similarly effective in preventing heart attacks.
The higher incidence of heart attacks and heart failure was “foremost”, says lead author Barry R. Davis, MD, PhD, in deciding to discontinue with Cardura. Davis is with the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health.
Gerald Payne, MD, NHLBI scientific project officer for the study, tells aryucare, “we can’t say that [Cardura] causes these events … It just doesn’t prevent them as much as the diuretics. That’s as far as we can state from this study,” he says.
“Clearly, the diuretic was superior to [Cardura] in preventing … heart failure and [Cardura] did not seem to be any better at preventing the other kinds of outcomes that we were looking at,” Ford tells aryucare. He suggests that it might be a good idea to start with the diuretic and then keep Cardura “as a step two or step three drug to be add as need.” Ford is an associate professor of biometry at University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health.
According to a press release on the subject, the NHLBI is advising high blood pressure patients who take an alpha-blocker to consult with their doctors about a possible alternative. If a patient is just starting drug treatment, an alpha-blocker may not be the best choice for initial therapy. Other alpha-blockers in the same class as Cardura are Hytrin and Minipres.
But that’s not the same as throwing the baby out with the bath water. “The last thing we would want to suggest is that patients should stop this drug,” Jackson T. Wright Jr., MD, a vice-chairman of the study’s steering committee told aryucare in a previous interview. “Patients need to contact their doctor to make sure they’re on the best therapy for their high blood pressure.”