The Pressure's On

A hypertension drug taken by 28 million people is under scrutiny. What are the other options?

Many patients suffering from high blood pressure were probably surprised last week to hear that one of the most popular class of drugs for treating their condition--calcium channel blockers--was being blamed for some 85,000 avoidable heart attacks and heart failures a year. Their doctors were less likely to be surprised. They know that treating hypertension can be tricky and that these particular drugs have been under intense scrutiny for the past five years.

Calcium channel blockers were introduced 20 years ago to great fanfare in part because the science seemed so easy to follow. The drugs work by blocking calcium from...

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