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Common blood pressure drug increases the risk of diabetes
BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- A drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure increases the risk of developing diabetes by 28 percent, according to a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
But researchers say doctors should not stop prescribing the drugs, known as beta blockers, before weighing the risk against the drug's proven benefits in reducing heart disease.
In contrast, an older, cheaper class of hypertension drugs known as diuretics does not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
"Although beta blockers have long been suspected to play a role in the development of diabetes, we thought beta blockers would be exonerated just like the diuretics were," said Dr. Frederick Brancati of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Both beta blockers and diuretics have been used as a first line of defense against hypertension. In 1999 almost 80 million beta blocker prescriptions were filled.
"These new findings are important since other studies have suggested both medications increased the propensity for diabetes," said Dr. Janis Lee, a kidney and hypertension specialist at Emory University School of Medicine.
The study followed 12,550 adults between the ages of 45 and 64 who did not have diabetes.
The research also raises the question of a possible connection between hypertension and the development of diabetes suggesting shared risk factors.
"There may be an interesting connection between hypertension and an increased risk of getting diabetes later in life," said Lee "this has not been widely known before."
Last year the American Heart Association added diabetes to its list of heart disease risk factors. The other risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. It's also known that half of all people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have some degree of heart disease.
NIH stops one part of high blood pressure test; one treatment more effective
New England Journal of Medicine
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