Studies highlight existing BP meds

All hail ACE inhibitors and ACE add-ons. Three new studies put the drugs in the spotlight today: One showed that treatment with an ACE inhibitor was as effective at reducing deaths, heart attacks, and stroke in high-risk patients as was a newer, more expensive angiotensin-receptor blocker, or ARB drug. The study of more than 17,000 patients with coronary artery disease or diabetes found no major differences between those treated with Altace/ramipril, an ACE inhibitor, and those given Micardis/telmisartan, an ARB. The latter drugs tend to cost about 20 percent more, researchers said, so using an ACE inhibitor could save money.

Another study showed that an ACE inhibitor combined with a calcium channel blocker--in this case benazepril and amlodipine--outperformed an ACE inhibitor coupled with a diuretic. The calcium-channel blocker group had 15 percent fewer heart-related problems or strokes. This study was paid for by Novartis, which makes Lotrel (the benazepril/amlodipine combo), but all the meds are available individually in generic form.

And a third study showed that an ACE inhibitor and diuretic outperformed an ACE inhibitor alone, cutting fatal strokes by 39 percent and deaths from any cause by 21 percent--and this in patients in their 80s.

- get the ACE-CCB press release from the University of Michigan
- read about the ACE/ARB study in US News
- check out the Associated Press article

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Merck, Schering defend embattled Vytorin. Report
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