Beta-blockers are targeted treatments for the heart and circulatory system. These are a class of medicines that work by inhibiting some cell activity, which in turn keeps blood pressure under control and heals heart arrhythmias.
But, there are some risk factors involved with this prescription medication, such as withdrawal symptoms and other potentially dangerous effects. Alongside these risks, there are some relatively non-hazardous ones like dizziness, fatigue, and cold hands.
Now, a new study has assessed the drugs for the extent of side effects and found they are probably doing more harm than good, according to the Study Finds.
Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, who conducted the study, found that in patients who have had a heart attack, but do not have heart failure, continuing beta-blocker therapy beyond the first year does not appear to lower the risk of future cardiovascular problems.
How do beta blockers work?
Beta-blockers are medicines that work by blocking the effects of a hormone called adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, which induces a “fight-or-flight” response in the body.
They typically target beta receptors in the body that are responsible for increasing blood pressure by teaming up with chemical signals released by the nervous system. By blocking these receptors, beta blockers slow down the heart rate, reduce the force of contraction of the heart muscle, and decrease the amount of oxygen the heart needs to function. This leads to a drop in blood pressure levels and symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, and anxiety.
The new study, however, concluded that for those who suffered a heart attack without developing heart failure, beta-blockers may not be as effective. Dr. Gorav Batra, the study author, said long-term use of beta blockers doesn’t guarantee riddance from future heart attacks or death in patients who had suffered a cardiac event earlier, Study Finds reported.
The study, which was published in the journal Heart, examined a group of 43,618 older men and women in Sweden, who had experienced a heart attack between 2005 and 2016 and required hospitalization for the condition.
Out of the total group, 34,253 participants were still taking beta blockers one year after being discharged from the hospital, while the remaining 9,365 participants had never been prescribed beta blockers. After going through the medical history of a few patients and following up on their data for four and a half years, researchers didn’t find reports of any participants having heart failure or left ventricular systolic dysfunction.
So, it was easy to conclude that taking beta blockers for a long period of time did not lead to improved cardiovascular outcomes even after accounting for other potentially aggravating factors such as age, sex, and demographics.
Researchers are now calling for more randomized clinical trials to collect important evidence regarding the effectiveness of long-term beta-blocker therapy in this particular group of patients.
Published by Medicaldaily.com