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 Dundee study finds heart drug used safely in the NHS

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PostSubject: Dundee study finds heart drug used safely in the NHS   Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:56 am

Dundee study finds heart drug used safely in the NHS

New research has backed the safety of a drug commonly prescribed for high blood pressure and heart problems.

Concerns had been raised over spironolactone after a Canadian study found it could cause kidney problems.

But researchers at Dundee University have concluded the drug can be safely used with careful monitoring.

Study author Professor Tom MacDonald said patients could get substantial benefits from the treatment without any significant risks.

The use of spironolactone has undergone a resurgence in the past decade after studies revealed it could benefit patients with high blood pressure and heart failure.

It is also commonly prescribed for patients with liver disease.

'Allay fears'

But in 2004 Canadian research found the therapy appeared to cause kidney problems in patients and led to high blood potassium levels, which can cause heart problems.

However the latest study, published in the British Medical Journal, found hospital admissions for these conditions fell despite a large increase in prescribing of spironolactone in the NHS.

The researchers believe this is due to a more cautious approach to prescribing the drug in the UK. Patients are initially given a low dose and have regular blood tests carried out.

Professor MacDonald, head of the medicines monitoring unit at Dundee University, said: "Our family doctors are excellent at using this drug safely and as a result patients get the substantial benefits without any significant risks."

Dr Alex Watson, a GP in Tayside, said the results would offer reassurance to both doctors who are prescribing the drug and the patients who are receiving it.

"This study will allay the fears of family doctors who were concerned at the results presented when the Canadian data was published," he added.

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