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Study Suggest Calcium Channel Blockers Not Effective Against All Heart Disease Risk Factors

Aired August 29, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: New concerns today about a popular class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. Some 12 million Americans take so-called calcium channel blockers to treat their hypertension. But a new study suggests, unlike other hypertension drugs, calcium channel blockers don't appear to help stop other risk factors for heart disease.

And CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, help us sort through all of this.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sort through all of this, OK.

Lou, there are about five different classes of blood pressure medication. And one of the most popular is called calcium channel blockers; 28 million people worldwide take the long-acting form of them. This new study found that people taking these drugs had a 27 percent higher risk for heart attacks than those taking other blood pressure medications.

Now, doctors say there's nothing dangerous about calcium channel blockers per se.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STEVEN MANOUKIAN, EMORY UNIV. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: What the investigators found in looking at the studies that are out there is that though calcium channel blockers are very effective in controlling blood pressure, they may not be as effective in reducing the risks of heart-related complications, things that we know come from high blood pressure, like heart attack or congestive heart failure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Now, doctors say patients taking calcium channel blockers should not panic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANOUKIAN: They need to discuss this issue with their doctors to see if they're on the best medicine already, or whether or not their doctor now has new information that may cause him or her to change them to a different medication. We clearly do not want patients to stop their blood pressure medication, because that is a major risk to the patient. Talk it over with your doctor and see what advice they can give you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Now, it's important to note that this study is not based on new data. Instead, it's a compilation of previously published reports. The National Institutes of Health is currently doing a study putting various types of blood pressure medicines head-to-head to see which works best -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Elizabeth Cohen.

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