Common blood pressure medication may have harmful side effects

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When it comes to lowering high blood pressure, doctors often prescribe a type of medicine called a diuretic. Diuretics help the body get rid of excess salt and water, which can lower blood pressure.

Two common diuretics are chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide. For a long time, medical guidelines have suggested using chlorthalidone because it was thought to be more effective.

However, a recent study from Columbia University has turned this advice on its head by suggesting that chlorthalidone might not be the best first choice after all.

The researchers spent years looking into the health records of over 730,000 people who were taking these medications to manage their high blood pressure.

Their investigation spanned 17 years, providing a vast amount of data to sift through. What they found was quite surprising.

Both chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide did a good job at reducing the risk of heart attacks, keeping people from being hospitalized due to heart failure, and preventing strokes. So, in terms of effectiveness, they were pretty much on the same page.

The twist came when they looked at the side effects. Those who took chlorthalidone were almost three times more likely to have dangerously low levels of potassium in their blood—a condition known as hypokalemia.

This wasn’t just a small difference; it was a significant risk that could lead to serious health problems, including abnormal heart rhythms, confusion, kidney failure, and even type 2 diabetes. Low potassium wasn’t the only issue.

Chlorthalidone users also had a higher chance of other electrolyte imbalances and kidney problems compared to those taking hydrochlorothiazide.

Despite these findings, the interesting part was that even at lower doses, chlorthalidone still led to higher rates of low potassium. This suggests that it’s not just about how much of the drug you take but the drug itself that matters.

The study’s authors recommend that doctors keep a close eye on patients taking chlorthalidone for these potential side effects.

This isn’t the first time chlorthalidone’s safety has been questioned. Previous studies had also noted that it might cause more electrolyte imbalances than hydrochlorothiazide.

This raises a big question about why the medical guidelines have been favoring chlorthalidone over hydrochlorothiazide for so long.

High blood pressure is a common condition that can lead to serious health issues if not managed properly. While medication is a key part of treatment for many people, choosing the right one is crucial.

Studies like this one from Columbia University help doctors and patients make informed decisions about their health care.

They remind us that when it comes to medication, more powerful isn’t always better, and the potential risks and benefits of each option need to be weighed carefully.

The findings of this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, are especially important for anyone dealing with high blood pressure.

They underscore the importance of regular monitoring and communication with healthcare providers to ensure that treatment not only addresses the condition but does so in a way that minimizes harm.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies that black licorice could cause dangerous high blood pressure, and this common plant nutrient could help reduce high blood pressure.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about how coffee influence your risk of high blood pressure, and results showing this olive oil could reduce blood pressure in healthy people.

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