New research highlights problems with beta-blockers for hypertension among seniors

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Beta-blockers, a once-popular treatment for seniors with high blood pressure, are now known to be less effective at preventing stroke than other blood pressure treatments. New research from the University of Leicester sheds light on some reasons why. 

The drugs treat hypertension by lowering the heart rate and reducing the effect of stress and physical exertion on the heart.  Researchers at Leicester have shown that the effects of the treatment in older people actually increase the amount of pressure put on larger arteries closer to the heart. This, they say, could be the reason beta-blockers are so ineffective at preventing stroke, unlike other blood-pressure treatments.

Beta-blockers are used among seniors to treat other conditions, such as angina and heart disease, researchers say, and seniors who take them for those conditions should not stop treatment. The report appears in the Aug 17 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.