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ACE Inhibitor as Effective as More Expensive Blood Pressure Drug
Date:3/31/2008

Study focused on more than 17,000 people with coronary artery disease or diabetes

MONDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with an ACE inhibitor drug was as effective in reducing deaths, heart attacks and stroke in a high-risk group of patients as a newer and more expensive angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) drug, a large international study has found.

The study of more than 17,000 people with coronary artery disease or diabetes found no major differences between those treated with the widely used ACE inhibitor ramipril (Altace) and those given the ARB telmisartan (Micardis).

"This is the first study in such a population that shows ACE inhibitors are as effective as ARBs," said study leader Dr. Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The finding might reduce the use of ARBs for such high-risk people, he said. "Even before the trial, many physicians have used ACE inhibitors as a first choice," Yusuf said. "I believe it will have an impact on practice."

The findings were to be presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting in Chicago, and will be published in the April 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both classes of drugs are prescribed to lower blood pressure. But they act in different ways to block the activity of angiotensin, a molecule that narrows blood vessels.

"The main value of ARBs as monotherapy in patients with cardiovascular disease is, in my opinion, as a substitute for an ACE inhibitor in a patient who cannot tolerate the ACE inhibitor because of cough," said Dr. John J.V. McMurray, a professor of medical cardiology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, who wrote an editorial accompanying the journal report.

"ACE inhibitors have never been tested in an outcome study in this patient population, and an ACE inhibitor and ARB have never been compared in this pat
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