A new drug for treating high blood pressure, telmisartan, is as effective as the popular drug ramipril but with fewer side effects, according to a study published Monday.
After four and a half years of study, researchers found that temisartan (marketed as Micardis, Pritor or Kinzal) and ramipril (Tritace, Ramace or Altace) were equally effective in reducing the rate of deaths from heart disease and strokes, said researchers presenting their conclusions at the 57th annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago.
"If it's possible to have access to a medication that can prevent serious cardiovasular events but with fewer side effects and better compliance than what's currently available, it will also have a great impact on their quality of life," said Gilles Dagnesais, one of the study's coordinators.
Some 25,620 patients at least 55 years old and suffering from coronary problems or diabetes together with other risk factors in 40 countries were studied in the tests.
Telmisartan reduced high blood pressure slightly more than ramipril, while a combination of the two produced more side effects without any real gain, said Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
The study is significant, "because it addresses the question of how we can best prevent heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiovascular death and other outcomes such as diabetes," said Koon Teo, head of clinical trials at McMaster.
"These conditions affect millions of people around the world and if we can find a better treatment that improves these outcomes we're doing a lot of good," he said.
People suffering from hypertension, called the "silent killer," have a high risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and renal failure.
Around 90 percent of middle-aged adults will suffer from hypertension for the rest of their life and a third of them will not be aware they have high blood pressure, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In adults, hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher.
The study of the two drugs was also published Monday in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.