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Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:00 AM

Radiocast: Comparing Blood Pressure Medications

Debra: This is Healthcare 411. A review compares the effectiveness of two common classes of blood pressure medications. More next.


[Begin PSA: Tips to Prevent Medical Errors]

Man: Okay, here’s your ham on rye, extra mayo.

Woman: Ah, I ordered the turkey on whole wheat with mustard!

Narrator: Messing up your sandwich order is one thing, but messing up your medical care is another. Medical errors are one of the nation’s leading causes of death and injury. You can help avoid errors by being more involved in your health care. Get the fact sheet 20 Tips to Prevent Medical Errors by visiting www.ahrq.gov/consumer. A message from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

[End PSA]


Debra: This is Healthcare 411. More than 65 million American adults have high blood pressure. If you’re one of them, you might wonder which type of medication is better at controlling high blood pressure - ACE inhibitors or ARBs. According to health services researcher Dr. Art Sedrakyan, a new AHRQ review finds these medications are actually equally effective.

Dr. Sedrakyan: When it comes to controlling blood pressure, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACEs, are just as effective as angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs. But ACE inhibitors are slightly more likely to cause a harmless but persistent dry cough.

Debra: Were there any differences in serious risks?

Dr. Sedrakyan: We need to do more research to study serious harms and if these medications differentially affect patients with additional health problems such as diabetes or kidney disease. Future studies should include patients who are older and from various racial groups.

Debra: What about the long-term effects of these medications?

Dr. Sedrakyan: That’s another area where we need to do more research to see how these medications possibly differ in decreasing the risks of heart attack, stroke or even death. Certainly, it’s helpful to know that ACE inhibitors and ARBs are equally effective at controlling blood pressure, and now we need to study these medications further for their long term harms and benefits.

Debra: To learn more about dozens of health topics, go to www.healthcare411.org. I’m Debra James. Healthcare 411 is produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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