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Blood Pressure Drug Does Not Help Those With Atrial Fibrillation
Date:3/9/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The blood pressure-lowering drug Avapro doesn't seem to prevent heart disease and stroke in patients suffering from the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, a new Canadian study finds.

People with atrial fibrillation are at risk for heart disease and stroke, and lowering blood pressure is one way of staving off these potential problems. Avapro (irbesartan) is an angiotensin-receptor blocker, which lowers blood pressure by helping blood vessels dilate.

"Atrial fibrillation affects between 2 and 6 million men and women in the United States," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Individuals with atrial fibrillation have substantially increased risk for stroke, other cardiovascular events, hospitalizations, and health-care expenditures," he added.

It has been "widely speculated" that angiotensin-receptor blockers might reduce the likelihood of recurrent atrial fibrillation and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, Fonarow explained.

Earlier studies have suggested that angiotensin-receptor blockers benefit patients with atrial fibrillation, he added.

The latest report is published in the March 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, Dr. Salim Yusuf, from McMaster University in Hamilton, and colleagues randomly assigned 9,016 patients with atrial fibrillation to daily doses of Avapro or a placebo. Over about four years of follow-up, the researchers looked for incidents of stroke, heart attack, death and heart failure.

The researchers found that even though people taking Avapro had lower blood pressure than those taking placebo, people in both groups suffered a stroke, heart attack or died at the same rate over the four years.

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