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New Pulmonary Hypertension Guidelines Issue Warning

Caution against use of calcium channel blockers in unstable patients

MONDAY, July 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- New American College of Chest Physicians guidelines caution against the use of calcium channel blockers in unstable pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients because the medication can cause potentially fatal side effects.

Calcium channel blockers are a commonly used treatment for high blood pressure.

PAH is a life-threatening condition that occurs when arteries that supply blood to the lungs become constricted. This reduces blood flow to the lungs and causes high blood pressure within the lung arteries.

The new evidence-based guidelines recommend against the empiric use of calcium channel blockers or their use in patients who don't respond to acute pulmonary vasodilator testing. The members of the expert panel who developed the guidelines cited an increased risk of adverse and possibly fatal problems that may be caused by calcium channel blockers.

The panel members also recommend genetic testing for people with a family history of PAH and advance screening for people with chronic diseases that predispose them to PAH.

The guidelines appear in the July issue of Chest.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation has more about pulmonary hypertension.

SOURCE: Chest, news release, July 12, 2004
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