Blood pressure drugs may help heart patients
A new analysis suggests that blood pressure drugs may benefit heart disease patients even if they don't have high blood pressure. The paper, published in the March 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is an analysis of 25 published studies, and the authors cautioned that randomized controlled trials must be done to confirm the results. Many patients in the studies had blood pressure levels that were normal or slightly above. Followed for two years, those who took antihypertensive medication cut their risk of stroke by 23 percent, heart attack by 20 percent, congestive heart failure by 29 percent and death by 13 percent compared with those who took dummy pills. The study's lead author, Angela M. Thompson, said that while current guidelines call for treatment when blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, these cutoff points had changed over time. "So the question is: Is this still the best cutoff point? Or if you lower it a little bit, are people going to obtain more benefit?" Another issue: Blood pressure medications come with side effects, some so troubling that patients stop taking them.
Anti-inflammatories linked to ED risk
Daily use of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with a 22 percent increase in the risk of erectile dysfunction, researchers found in a large study of men in Southern California. The results were a surprise because erectile dysfunction is thought to be caused by inflammation. The team controlled for factors including age, smoking and diabetes, but it's possible the men were taking the drugs for an underlying condition that also was causing ED, the team wrote in a report to appear in April's Journal of Urology. Dr. Joseph M. Gleason of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and his colleagues studied 80,966 men, ages 45 to 69, enrolled in Kaiser health plans starting in 2002. About 47.4 percent of the men were regular NSAID users and 29.3 percent reported moderate or severe ED. The team is collecting more data from the men to better understand what is happening.