Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE), inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB) are the two drug classes that can reduce adverse heart events caused by high blood pressure.
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In general, ACE inhibitors are the drugs of choice used by physicians in the US and Europe because they cost less than ARBs and have a longer track record.
According to a recent study conducted by George Hripcsak, M.D., of Columbia University, “Physicians in the United States and Europe overwhelmingly prescribe ACE inhibitors, simply because the drugs have been around longer and tend to be less expensive than ARBs, but our study shows that ARBS are associated with fewer side effects than ACE inhibitors,” stated Hripcsak.
Researchers looked at 51 possible side effects and safety concerns in data from 3 million first-time users being treated for high blood pressure. While both drug classes were equally effective in preventing cardiovascular events linked to hypertension, patients taking ARBs were significantly less likely to develop tissue swelling, cough, pancreas inflammation and bleeding in the digestive tract.
So what does this mean for the treatment of hypertension? According to the researchers, “If you’re just starting drug therapy for hypertension, you might consider trying an ARB first. If you’re already taking an ACE inhibitor and you’re not having any side effects, there is nothing that we found that would indicate a need for a change.”
For physicians treating patients with hypertension, choosing the right drug isn’t always simple. There are 30 medications from five different drug classes listed in the hypertension guidelines. Hripcsak wrote, “There are very few head-to-head studies to help physicians determine which ones are better. In our research, we are trying to fill in this information gap with real-world observational data.”
“SpecialtyRx keeps abreast of research and data in the pharmaceutical industry so that we can provide our customers guidance and recommendations on the latest and best treatment options available,” stated Joe Kubulak, Chief Operating Officer at SpecialtyRx.