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Atrial fibrillation risk ‘lower with some classes of antihypertensives’

By Yvette Martyn

Hypertensive patients receiving long-term treatment with ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers or beta-blockers have a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation compared with calcium-channel blockers, UK primary care data shows.

An international team of researchers compared the relative risk of developing atrial fibrillation in hypertensive patients taking different classes of blood pressure drugs.

They used the General Practice Research Database to identify 4,661 patients who had received a first diagnosis of atrial fibrillation which occurred within 90 days of introducing hypertensive treatment. The study population was then matched with hypertensive controls who did not have atrial fibrillation.

The study - published in the latest edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine - found compared with calcium-channel blockers all the drugs studied had a lower relative risk for the development of atrial fibrillation, with a 25% reduced risk with ACE inhibitors, 29% for ARBs, and 22% for ?–blockers.

Unlike previous studies the researchers only included patients who were unlikely to have structural heart disease or other risk factors for atrial fibrillation.

Lead author Dr Beat Schaer, cardiologist at University hospital Basel, Switzerland, concluded: ‘We provide evidence that exclusive therapy with ACE inhibitors, ARBs or ?-blockers reduces the risk for atrial fibrillation compared with calcium-channel blocker therapy in hypertensive patients.'

Ann Intern Med 2010; 152: 78-84

The risk of atrial fibrillation is lower with some classes of antihypertensives a new study has found