Up to 2 million Britons could soon be "easing off" of their beta blockers. And for some very good reasons.
U.K.'s National Institute For Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) researchers have recently reported that Atenolol, the most frequently used beta blocker, increased the risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The new guidelines advise patients to ease off the drugs and switch to other "therapies."
In a recent interview with WebMD's HeartWire, Dr. Norman Kaplan, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas voiced his concerns about beta blockers.
"Beta blocker side effects slow you down, but we want to make our hypertensive patients more active. In addition, they have a whole panoply of adverse metabolic effects-lowering HDL (cholesterol) and insulin sensitivity."
Of course the news release was couched in terms much more acceptable to the pharmaceutical companies. Call me cynical if you like but Atenolol is the fourth most prescribed drug in the US, with more than 44 million prescriptions written per year. The announcement stated,
"The decision not to recommend beta-blockers for first-line therapy was based on evidence that suggested they performed less well than other drugs - particularly in the elderly."
That's like saying that people who have heart attacks are less well than those who don't.
I'm Gene Millen, a 23-year survivor of a six way heart by pass. During the past several years several doctors have recommended that I include a beta blocker in my "preventive medicine" regimen. I have respectfully declined their well meaning advice due to the beta blocker side effects.
In most people beta blockers slow down the heart rate...which makes it more difficult for them to improve their physical fitness and to lose weight.
I'm in some very good company in believing that the beta blocker side effects are worse than the disease.In a recent interview with WebMD's HeartWire, Dr. Norman Kaplan, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas voiced his concerns about beta blockers.
"Beta blocker side effects slow you down, but we want to make our hypertensive patients more active. In addition, they have a whole panoply of adverse metabolic effects, lowering HDL (cholesterol) and insulin sensitivity."
Note: HDL cholesterol is protective against heart disease. HDL's protect you like a guardian angel by removing plaque that has been accumulating in the arteries of your heart and brain. People with the highest live the longest.
And lowering your sensitivity to insulin is the first step down the path to devastating type 2 diabetes.
Beta-blockers may make your allergic reactions worse.
Heart Institue researchers also provide a list of "cautions" to consider before beginning beta blockers to avoid harmful side effects.
You have heart disease or poor circulation to your hands or feet.
You have a slow heart rate or heart block.
You have asthma, hay fever symptoms, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.
You have diabetes or hypoglycemia. Beta-blockers may hide the symptoms of low blood sugar.
You have kidney or liver disease.
Dr. Franz Messerli, St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, New York, describes the new British guidelines as "dawn breaking in the UK," and he is urging the US to follow suit. Dr. Messerli pulls no punchers when he relates his experience with beta blockers.
"In the US, millions of patients are still exposed to the cost, inconvenience, and beta blocker side effects without harvesting any benefits.
"Beta blockers as a class have never been shown to reduce heart attacks or strokes in hypertension. This is particularly true for Atenolol, the most common beta blocker."
Health experts remind us that it is dangerous to stop beta blockers "cold turkey". You need to consult with your health care practioner on this.
Since my heart bypass operation in 1990, my passion has been to learn exactly what causes heart attacks and strokes and how we can avoid them!
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board certified cardiologist who integrates conventional medicine with nutrition at his New England Heart and Longevity Center says this about CoQ10:
"Coenzyme-Q10, commonly known as CoQ10, is energy on call. I have long considered CoQ10 a wonder nutrient because of its ability to support heart health."
If you are taking Lipitor, Crestor or generics in the statin family of drugs to lower your cholesterol you should not be without CoQ10!
Another beta blocker side effect is its ability to interfere with Coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the most potent antioxidants known. It provides the "energizing spark" that enables the heart muscle to pump blood more efficiently, and it's a great scavenger of free radicals.
More than 100 clinical studies at major universities and hospitals have documented the actions of Coenzyme Q10.
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