A recent study from Columbia University has brought attention to the potential risks associated with a commonly prescribed blood pressure medication, chlorthalidone.
This drug, often recommended in treatment guidelines for lowering blood pressure, may have more serious side effects than hydrochlorothiazide, another medication used for the same purpose.
The study, which spanned 17 years and involved over 730,000 individuals being treated for high blood pressure, aimed to compare the effectiveness and safety of chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide.
While both drugs were found to be similarly effective in preventing heart attacks, hospitalization due to heart failure, and strokes, the side effects associated with chlorthalidone raised concerns.
Patients taking chlorthalidone were found to have nearly three times the risk of experiencing dangerously low levels of potassium, known as hypokalemia. This condition can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and is potentially life-threatening.
Furthermore, those on chlorthalidone also faced greater risks of other electrolyte imbalances and kidney problems compared to patients on hydrochlorothiazide.
These imbalances can lead to severe complications like confusion, kidney failure, and even type 2 diabetes.
The study revealed that 6.3% of patients treated with chlorthalidone suffered from low blood potassium, as opposed to just 1.9% of those treated with hydrochlorothiazide.
This increased risk of hypokalemia persisted even when chlorthalidone was administered at lower doses than hydrochlorothiazide.
Given these findings, the research team suggests that doctors should carefully monitor patients prescribed chlorthalidone for these side effects. This study is not the first to highlight the risks associated with chlorthalidone.
Previous observational studies have also indicated that the drug might lead to more electrolyte imbalances than hydrochlorothiazide.
For individuals concerned about blood pressure management, these findings underscore the importance of discussing medication choices and potential risks with healthcare providers.
Understanding the side effects and closely monitoring one’s health can be crucial in effectively managing high blood pressure while minimizing risks.
The study’s publication in JAMA Internal Medicine, conducted by George Hripcsak and colleagues, contributes to the evolving understanding of blood pressure medication safety, challenging current treatment guidelines and advocating for more personalized approaches to hypertension management.
If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how diets could help lower high blood pressure, and 3 grams of omega-3s a day keep high blood pressure at bay.
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