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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Hewitt's listening exercise 'a sham'

Further doubt has been cast on use of ?-blockers and diuretics in hypertension after a study linked the combination to impaired heart function.

The sub-analysis of the

ASCOT trial found patients taking ?-blocker and diuretic showed evidence of declining ventricular diastolic function.

Patients on ?-blocker and diuretic also had a heart rate of only 57.9bpm, compared with 72.9 in those on calcium channel blocker and ACE inhibitor.

Study researcher Dr Simon Thom, reader in clinical pharmacology at Imperial College London, said the study was one of the first to examine the impact of hypertension drugs on diastolic function.

But he added: 'The prognostic significance of this ?-blocker and diuretic-induced change in diastolic function remains to be established.'

The research, presented at the British Hypertension Society annual scientific meeting this week, came as a new meta-analysis strengthened the evidence that ?-blockers and diuretics increase diabetes risk.

The study, published in October's Journal of Hypertension, found alternative drugs cut risk by 19 per cent.

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