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Water Pills Still Beat Blood-Pressure Meds

Posted Oct 19 2010 5:58pm

Expensive brand-name medications to lower blood pressure are no better at preventing cardiovascular disease than older, generic diuretics, according to new long-term data from a landmark study.

More than 33,000 patients with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to take either a diuretic (chlorthalidone) or one of two newer drugs, a calcium channel blocker (amlodipine) or an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril).

Paul Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, reported the results at the August session of the China Heart Congress and International Heart Forum in Beijing. Whelton is president and CEO of Loyola University Health System and chairman of the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT), which has examined the comparative value of different blood pressure-lowering medications.

In 2002, ALLHAT researchers reported that among patients followed for four to eight years, the diuretic was better than the calcium channel blocker in preventing heart failure and better than the ACE inhibitor in preventing stroke, heart failure and overall cardiovascular disease.

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