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Many of us will have a relative or know someone who is taking beta blockers to control their blood pressure. However there is growing evidence that the side effects of taking these drugs may outweigh the benefits. The side effects of taking beta blockers can include dizziness, blurred vision, tiredness and loss of balance; in a new study by the University of Yale, scientists have discovered that the risk of dying from a fall increases by 40% among older people taking beta blockers compared to those abstaining. The study followed 5,000 people aged 70 or over for 3 years, most of whom were taking blood pressure medication. During the study period, 446 of those followed (or 9%) suffered serious injuries when falling, of these 111 (or 25%) died as a result of their injuries.
This number correlates almost exactly with the number that would have statistically been likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke through not taking the medicine.
The authors of the study noted that “the morbidity and mortality associated with series injuries were comparable to those associated with cardiovascular events”.
It should also be noted that there is a high prevalence in the UK of GPs prescribing beta blockers while ignoring other forms of treatment – i.e. exercise and healthy eating. Just a single session a week on the DDW 50+ program can lower blood pressure as much or even more than doctor prescribed drugs.
By Adam Atkinson