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Common Blood Pressure Drug May Increase Heart Attack Risk

We take medicines to improve our health condition. But what if the medicines you take come back to burden you? Such is the case with a current study report which claims that a drug commonly used in the treatment of high blood pressure and chest pain can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

A group of researchers from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands carried out a study with more than 60,000 respondents.

Angina & High Blood Pressure Medicine Increases Cardiac Arrest Risk

Upon exploring the impact of different type of medications, the researchers examined the possible impact of two types of dihydropyridines - nifedipine and amlodipine. These are medications commonly used for treating high blood pressure and angina - a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart (a symptom of coronary artery disease) [1] .

The study findings presented at the European Heart Rhythm Association 2019 revealed that a high dose of nifedipine or amlodipine (60 mg/day) was used to study the possible impact and it was revealed that nifedipine posed a high risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest but amlodipine showed no signs of risk [2] .

The head researcher Dr Hanno Tan said, "nifedipine and amlodipine are often used by many cardiologists and other physicians, and the choice often depends on the prescriber's preference and personal experience" [3] .

The study results asserted that individuals Their analysis showed that those who took high-dose nifedipine were significantly more likely to have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest than those who were not taking dihydropyridines or who were taking amlodipine.

The Medicines Have Been In Use For Many Years

One of the many factors that surprised the researchers is that both the drugs have been in use for many years and also why the actions of the two drugs differed as both of them use the same mechanism that is every type of dihydropyridines work by blocking L-type calcium channels which reduces the potential of the cardiac cells [4] .

A high dose of nifedipine is shown to increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest due to fatal cardiac arrhythmia while amlodipine does not.

However, considering the year-long usage of these drugs in the treatment of high blood pressure and chest pain, the researchers have asserted that the results of the study should be interpreted with caution because more studies have to be conducted to before taking action.

The head researcher said, "the findings need to be replicated in other studies before action could be taken by doctors or patients."

On A Final Note...

Although the study indicated that a specific type of drug used for treating high blood pressure and chest pain can increase the risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, more studies have to be done for any action to be taken in that direction. So for now, the researchers suggest restricting the level of nifedipine consumption for chest pain and high blood pressure after speaking with your doctor.

View Article References
  1. [1] Pollack Jr, C. V., & Riese, V. G. (2019). Acute Coronary Syndrome: Unstable Angina. In Differential Diagnosis of Cardiopulmonary Disease (pp. 73-96). Springer, Cham.
  2. [2] Arnar, D. O., Mairesse, G. H., Boriani, G., Calkins, H., Chin, A., Coats, A., ... & Kalman, J. M. (2019). Management of asymptomatic arrhythmias: a European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) consensus document, endorsed by the Heart Failure Association (HFA), Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS), Cardiac Arrhythmia Society of Southern Africa (CASSA), and Latin America Heart Rhythm Society (LAHRS). EP Europace.
  3. [3] IANS. (2019, March 18). Common Heart Drug May up Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk. Retrieved from,
  4. [4] Tinetti, M. E., McAvay, G., Trentalange, M., Cohen, A. B., & Allore, H. G. (2015). Association between guideline recommended drugs and death in older adults with multiple chronic conditions: population based cohort study. Bmj, 351, h4984.
Story first published: Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 17:30 [IST]