Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a dangerous condition that some describe as “silent” due to virtually non-existent symptoms. Initially, some people experience headache, nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness, but if hypertension goes unchecked, it can lead to heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysms, or kidney failure. Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are types of drugs used to reduce blood pressure, but several studies indicate they may do more harm than good. Thankfully, there are some ways you can try to lower blood pressure naturally, like taking supplements for heart health and eating a proper diet.
Common brands of beta blockers are Inderal, Tenormin, Lopressor, Corgard, and Normodyne. These medications work by blocking the heart’s response to norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline), which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. While these drugs are beneficial for temporary symptom relief, many doctors prescribe indefinite use.
Short term side effects include fatigue, impotence, waning libido, and problems with blood lipids. The Physician’s Desk Reference warns doctors about long-term use of beta blockers, mentioning symptoms like shortness of breath, cold extremities, palpitations, congestive heart failure, and hypertension.
A report published in 2007 suggested that physicians should stop routinely prescribing beta-blockers for control of high blood pressure. The report, based on a review of dozens of previously published studies, concluded other hypertension pills work better and cause fewer side effects than beta blockers.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Like their name implies, medications like Cardizem, Adalat and Procardia lower blood pressure by blocking calcium from entering cells in the arterial wall. This relaxes blood vessel walls, boosts blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. However, some studies show that large doses of calcium channel blockers may raise risks for death.
A report was presented at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology in 2000 by Dr. Curt Furberg, an expert on the effectiveness of cardiovascular drugs from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Furberg’s research showed that patients who took calcium blockers experienced greater risks for heart attack and heart failure of 27 percent and 26 percent respectively, than patients taking other medications for hypertension. Based on his research, Dr. Furberg concluded that physicians should avoid prescribing calcium blockers for hypertension and focus on other types of medicine.
Another ongoing study has compared 291 people taking calcium channel blockers for hypertension to 1,240 hypertensive people taking other medications. The study shows that patients taking channel blockers experience a 60 percent higher death rate that people taking diuretics or beta blockers.
Women and Calcium Channel Blockers
Research shows that adverse side effects from channel blockers occur more often in females than in males. A recent study found that women under the age of 50 are more apt to experience adverse effects from dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers than women over the age of 50.