By: Kennedy Shelley
Are all blood pressure medicines equal? If two drugs both lower your blood pressure, isn’t that enough?
Well maybe not. Some drugs have been proven to prevent cardiac events better than others even though they both work at lowering blood pressure.
Lowering your blood pressure is a vital first step to living longer.
High blood pressure damages many parts of your body. It forces blood through your kidneys harder than it should causing long term damage, and it stresses your brain and your heart.
This type of damage doesn’t happen overnight. When you think about it, when you are under stress, your blood pressure goes up. When you exercise, your blood pressure goes up. But the chronic long-term effect of blood pressure slowly damages and eventually kills you.
So, if you may have been prescribed angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB’s) because it has fewer side effects than an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor you are probably getting lower blood pressure. But is that enough?
Many people don’t like ACE inhibitors like Lisinopril because they get an annoying cough. But that cough may be the sign that you are actually lowering your heart attack risk.
The American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs published a study where they compared ARB’s vs ACE’s to see which ones produced the best results. Not just lowering blood pressure, they both do that, but who lives longer with fewer heart attacks.
In short, they wanted to find out, “are increased side effects worth it?”
As it turns out, the ACE cough may prevent a heart attack.
And the cough from ACE inhibitors is the number one reason most people quit taking the drug.
The study showed that the ARB’s did reduce blood pressure and significantly reduced your chances of stroke and heart failure. But they didn’t significantly reduce “all-cause mortality” which is the risk of just dying (we just don’t know the cause) or myocardial infarction (heart attack because of blocked artery).
These are all good things, but ACE inhibitors do this, but much better.
(Source: American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs)
Yes, you might get an annoying dry cough with the ACE inhibitor, but you get significantly more protection against dying of a heart attack when you take it, and half the stroke risk (which is the leading cause of long term disability in the US).
All drugs are some form of poison. That’s why they require a prescription. All poisons are going to have some side effects. The question remains, is the side effect worth it?
This is worth talking to your doctor about.
Many doctors automatically give ARB’s because they don’t know about the additional protections, but they do know that they have fewer complaints than ACE inhibitors.
But ultimately it is your decision if you will take a medication.
The doctor can prescribe it, but at the end of day, you control what you put in your mouth.
But it is worth knowing not all blood pressure medicines are the same. And there are many benefits to getting control of your blood pressure.
Lifestyle and herbal supplements may only take you so far and you might have to give in to medication intervention.
But then you have to look at what medication gives you the most bang for your buck. You might want to bring a copy of this study with you to your doctor’s appointment.