Beta Blockers and New-Onset Diabetes

Beta BlockersTreating patients with beta blockers for hypertension may heighten their risk of diabetes, say researchers from New York and Israel. Findings from their analysis of 12 studies involving 94,492 patients suggest that beta-blocker therapy leads to a 22% higher risk.

Atenolol drug and generic metoprolol raised the risk by as much as 34%, compared with other agents. The studies evaluating (buy) propranolol (Inderal drug, Wyeth), by contrast, showed a trend toward lowering the risk by 23%, although the studies were heavily weighted by comparison with diuretics, the researchers add.

Elderly patients and those with higher baseline fasting glucose levels and higher baseline body mass indexes were most vulnerable. The researchers also found that risk increased “exponentially” with a longer duration of beta-blocker therapy.

Beta blockers also raised the risk of stroke by 15%.

Given that 65 million Americans have hypertension, the researchers concluded that beta-blocker treatment could lead to 910,000 cases of diabetes, 195,000 deaths, and 305,500 excess strokes— “hardly an cceptable risk-benefit ratio,” they note.

(Source: Am J Cardiol 2007;