Diabetes risk down three times with newer hypertension drugs

According to researchers patients given a mix of modern blood pressure drugs are one-third less likely to develop diabetes than those on older pills.

The results from Europe's biggest ever trial of hypertensive patients showed only 8 percent given the newer drugs developed diabetes after five years, compared to 11.4 percent of those on the older drugs.

The trial involved 19,257 participants, 14,120 did not have diabetes at the outset and because the results were so promising it was stopped in November 2004.

The newer drugs proved to be 34 percent more effective in reducing the risk of diabetes in hypertensive patients and better at reducing strokes and heart attacks.

The trial compared a regimen of a beta blocker and a diuretic with a combination of Norvasc and Coversyl.

Norvasc, known generically as amlodipine, is a calcium channel blocker, while Coversyl, or perindopril, is an ACE inhibitor.

The clinical trial was paid for by Pfizer who manufacture the new drugs.

Professor Peter Sever of Imperial College in London, co-chairman of the study, says the findings underline the limitations of beta blockers for treating high blood pressure.

Beta blockers which are extensively used to treat blood pressure are on the whole off patent and sold generically, and are usually prescribed along with diuretics, which are also cheap.

Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently said beta blockers should no longer be the preferred initial therapy.

Professor Sever believes beta blockers are no longer effective blood pressure drugs for preventing diabetes as they restrict blood flow to muscles, making it more difficult for the body to metabolise glucose, while calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors probably help by dilating blood vessels.

Sever says the latest findings are important for many thousands of patients.

High blood pressure increases a persons risk for developing type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes by two or three times, which adds to their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

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