It’s established medical practice to prescribe a beta blocker drug to someone who’s suffered a heart attack—but it needs revising because the drug isn’t always necessary, and it can cause debilitating side effects.

The drug should be prescribed only when the patient has suffered heart failure, where the heart itself is damaged, new research has discovered.

But 95 per cent of people who didn’t suffer heart failure are still prescribed beta blockers, even though the drugs don’t help the patient live any longer, and they are likely to cause common side effects such as tiredness and dizziness.

Beta blockers are powerful drugs that slow the heart and lower blood pressure, but they are a waste of money and don’t offer any benefits unless the heart has been damaged, say researchers from the University of Leeds, who looked at the treatment of more than 179,000 heart attack patients who hadn’t suffered heart failure. After a year, those who hadn’t been given a beta blocker were as likely to be alive as those prescribed the drug.

(Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.acc.2017.03.578)



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