Popular blood pressure meds may be least effective for some patients

Yale University has published the results of a massive study that found ACE inhibitors, the most popular type of blood pressure medication, may be less effective at protecting patients from heart conditions than thiazide and thiazide-like diuretics. The results applied to individuals seeking their initial treatment for "extremely high" blood pressure, according to the researchers.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are the most popular type of blood pressure medication, but they may not be the most effective at preventing heart failure, heart attack, and strokes in people who are suffering from extremely high blood pressure. The conclusion comes from the Lancet study, which involved data on around 4.9 million people from four countries.

The data was pulled from nine different institutional databases, according to a release from Yale, which says this study is 'unprecedented in scale.' By looking at such a huge number, the researchers were able to make unique insights into the effectiveness of five different classes of high blood pressure drugs used as first-line treatments.

According to the researchers, it would have taken thousands of observational studies to discover the same patterns identified in this research. Of note, the team found that ACE inhibitors are less safe than thiazide and thiazide-like diuretics and that they're also less effective at protecting against stroke and heart attack/failure.

When it comes down to individual patients, the study notes that the differences in safety and effectiveness between the two hypertension drug classes are small. However, when looked at over a wider body of patients, the team found that if the 2.4 million people in the study who are currently taking ACE inhibitors were switched to thiazide or thiazide-like diuretics, more than 3,100 instances of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure may be avoided.