Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death each year in the United States. Risk factors for developing heart disease include, among others, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A significant number of individuals living in the United States currently suffer from hypertension, which has become a much more serious health concern in recent years. The threshold for being diagnosed with hypertension is lower than it used to be. Currently, a patient whose blood pressure reading is 130/80 or greater is considered to have hypertension.
Many people may not think that 130/80 is a poor blood pressure reading, but because heart conditions are so prevalent in the United States and hypertension is a significant risk factor for the development of heart disease, the medical community is taking a more stringent position on what blood pressure reading is considered to be “high.” Based on the new measure of 130/80, nearly half of all adults living in the United States have hypertension. As such, hypertension is a significant public health concern, especially because of its strong link to deadly heart disease.
There are a variety of methods individuals can use to help decrease the risk of developing heart disease, and to eliminate hypertension. Such methods include, among others, lifestyle changes to reduce stress, exercise, diet changes, and taking certain medications. While medications have certainly been helpful for patients suffering from hypertension, such medications also have the potential to cause serious injuries or death if used in combination with other hypertension drugs.
Recent Findings on the Dangers of Using a Combination of Certain Blood Pressure Drugs
A study undertaken by scientists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah found that patients taking two different classes of hypertension drugs at the same time — alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists—were at risk for suffering serious injuries or death. Many patients are already taking a combination of these two classes of drugs, and the recent study has found that this should not be done unless necessary. The study found that alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists can cause a person’s blood pressure to be unstable.
The study’s findings on these two classes of hypertension drugs were presented at the 2018 American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida. The presentation of such findings to the medical community demonstrates that the use of alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists at the same time to treat hypertension is dangerous and potentially fatal. Overall, the study concludes that in the vast majority of cases, a patient should not be taking an alpha-blocker and an alpha-2 agonist at the same time. There may be rare situations where a patient may need to take both types of drugs together, but in most cases, the risks of doing this outweigh the benefits.
What are Alpha-Blockers and Alpha-2 Agonists?
Alpha-blockers function by dilating blood vessels, while alpha-2 agonists function by targeting sympathetic nervous system activity which therefore reduces blood vessel constriction. As such, alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists may work against each other and result in a huge variation in blood pressure. By having a blood pressure that varies frequently, a patient may suffer consequences in the form of significantly high blood pressure at one minute and low bread pressure at the next minute, causing serious heart problems that may be fatal.
Examples of alpha-blockers that many patients take to treat hypertension include the following:
- Doxazosin (Cardura);
- Prazosin Hydrochloride (Minipress); and
- Terazosin Hydrochloride (Hytrin).
Examples of alpha-2 agonists that many patients take to treat hypertension include the following:
- Clonidine (Catapres);
- Clonidine Patch (Catapres-TTS); and
- Methyldopa (Aldomet).
Some patients may not be aware of whether the hypertension drugs they are taking are alpha-blockers or alpha-2 agonists. Therefore, it is important for hypertension patients to speak with their healthcare providers about their medications to find out if they are taking both alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists at the same time to treat hypertension.
Injuries Associated with the Use of Multiple Blood Pressure Drugs to Treat Hypertension
Potential injuries associated with the use of alpha-blockers in combination with alpha-2 agonists at the same time can be catastrophic both for the patient suffering from hypertension as well as loved ones witnessing the injuries. Examples of such injuries include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Variability of blood pressure readings (inability to keep blood pressure at a stable level within normal limits);
- Heart attack;
- The development of heart disease; and
Because unstable blood pressure can lead to a variety of heart-related conditions, and because heart disease itself can be life-threatening, it is essential that patients and their physicians are fully aware of the true risks associated with taking alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists in combination to treat hypertension.
Who Should be Held Responsible When Patients Suffer Injuries or Death?
Many people who have suffered injuries after taking a combination of blood pressure drugs may wonder whether a person or company should be held responsible for such injuries. After all, both doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers should be aware of the true risks of using certain drugs, especially in combination with one another. Many questions will be asked as to whether either doctors and/or pharmaceutical companies did the proper investigation to determine what can happen when patients suffering from hypertension take alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists at the same time.
Because pharmaceutical companies must undergo testing on new drugs before they enter the marketplace, it may be surprising to many patients that the manufacturers of alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists would not know of the safety risks of using the two types of hypertension drugs at the same time. Many pharmaceutical companies have a history of concealing information from doctors and patients, failing to warn them about the dangers and side-effects of their drugs. As such, if a person suffers injuries because of a risk these drug manufacturers knew or should have known about, the person may have a potential product liability lawsuit against the drug manufacturers.
Additionally, if a doctor is aware of the risk of using alpha-blockers and alpha-2 agonists at the same time and fails to inform a patient who subsequently suffers injuries or death, the victim may have a potential medical malpractice claim against the doctor who prescribed the drugs to be taken together to treat hypertension. To find out whether an injured person has a potential medical malpractice or product liability claim, the injured person must speak with an attorney who is familiar with handling both medical malpractice and drug interaction cases.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you have sustained injuries from using a combination of blood pressure medications or your loved one has suffered fatal injuries from taking a combination of blood pressure mediations, it may be time to speak with a qualified Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Attorney who can evaluate your or your loved one’s situation.
At Parker Waichman LLP, our nationally-recognized trial attorneys are committed to helping their clients receive the maximum amount of compensation available for their suffering. To find out if you or your loved one may have a potential lawsuit, contact our office today by calling (800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529) to schedule your free consultation.
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