Women taking this blood pressure drug may have higher heart disease risk

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A recent study from the University of Bologna has shed light on the risks associated with beta-blockers, a common medication used to treat high blood pressure, particularly in women.

The research revealed that women without a prior history of heart disease face an almost 5% higher risk of heart failure compared to men when admitted to the hospital with acute coronary syndrome, a serious condition where the heart’s blood supply is suddenly blocked.

Beta-blockers are frequently prescribed to manage hypertension, which is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

However, this study highlights the need to consider how these medications affect genders differently, especially in cases where individuals have not previously been diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases but experience acute coronary events.

The research team analyzed data from 13,764 adults across 12 European countries. These participants were selected based on their diagnosis of hypertension and lack of prior cardiovascular disease, and were grouped by gender and beta-blocker usage.

The study’s findings were concerning:

  • Women taking beta-blockers were found to have a 4.6% higher incidence of heart failure than men under similar circumstances when hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome.
  • Both men and women with heart failure exhibited a death rate approximately seven times higher than those suffering from an acute myocardial infarction (a type of heart attack) without subsequent heart failure.
  • Women experiencing a severe type of heart attack known as ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), where one of the coronary arteries is completely blocked, had a 6.1% higher likelihood of developing heart failure compared to their male counterparts.
  • There were similar rates of heart failure among men and women who were not taking beta-blockers.

These findings emphasize the necessity of managing blood pressure through non-pharmacological means such as diet and exercise, especially for women with hypertension and no previous heart disease.

The researchers also suggested that the increased risk of heart failure in women could be associated with interactions between hormone replacement therapy and beta-blockers, though this hypothesis requires further investigation.

The implications of this study are significant. They highlight the critical need for personalized medical treatments that consider gender differences, particularly in the management of conditions like hypertension. This approach could lead to more effective and safer treatment strategies.

For individuals concerned with heart health, particularly women with hypertension, these results underscore the importance of vigilant monitoring and potential adjustment of treatment plans to mitigate the risk of developing heart failure.

Published in the journal Hypertension, this study by Professor Raffaele Bugiardini and his team contributes important insights into the gender-specific responses to hypertension treatments and reinforces the broader call for individualized healthcare approaches based on comprehensive research.

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