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Practitioner 2011;255:10

Angiotensin receptor blockers do not raise risk of MI

09 Aug 2011Registered users

A large systematic review has found no evidence that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) increase the risk of MI. Compared with patients on other active treatment or placebo, those on ARBs also had a lower risk of stroke, heart failure and diabetes. The researchers analysed a total of 37 randomised controlled trials (39 comparator arms) with 147,020 patients. Dr Peter Savill comments: 'This is a large and comprehensive analysis and has produced firm evidence to refute the hypothesis that ARBs increase the risk of MI. The authors comment that they were able to rule out as low as a 0.3% absolute increase. Furthermore, compared with controls, ARBs reduced the risk of stroke, heart failure, and new onset diabetes. The concern that ARBs may increase the risk of MI has mainly arisen from under-powered observations and secondary endpoint analysis of several ARB trials but such observations can cause clinicians some concern. I am not certain to what degree this has influenced the prescribing of this class of drugs but this recent meta-analysis should now lay this concern to rest. From a practical perspective, I would still stick with ACEIs as the first-line renin angiotensin system drug for the indications discussed above but when ACEIs are genuinely not tolerated, and cardioprotection is not the sole aim of treatment, then ARBs would appear to be a safe and effective alternative.'

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