Protect Yourself Against The "Silent Killer"

The human heart Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States and is known as the "silent killer" because patients often do not experience any symptoms. Untreated, or inadequately treated, hypertension often leads to death, usually from heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. Experts estimate that untreated hypertension can decrease a person's life span by as much as 10 to 20 years.

Fortunately, if controlled, high blood pressure sufferers can greatly reduce their likelihood of heart attack or stroke. Conventional treatment of hypertension consists of controlling risk factors -- which can include modifying diet, reducing stress, not smoking and engaging in regular exercise -- and drug therapy.

Now patients have another drug option for blood pressure control that combines low side effects and a unique way of working. A new once-daily medication called Posicor® (mibefradil dihydrochloride), developed by Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. and marketed by Roche Laboratories, controls blood pressure smoothly and with fewer side effects -- like swollen ankles -- than other similar high blood pressure medications.

"One thing we know from the treatment of high blood pressure is that many patients stop taking their medication because of side effects," said Craig Pratt, M.D. Director of Clinical Cardiology Research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. "The benefit of taking medicine to control high blood pressure is to reduce heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease. A medicine such as Posicor, that can reduce blood pressure, be taken once-a-day, and not make patients feel bad, should encourage people to stay on their medication."

Currently, Posicor is the only hypertension treatment that, at therapeutic doses, slows heart rate without weakening the pumping action of the heart. It is also used to control the chest pain of angina.

Posicor belongs to a class of drugs called calcium antagonists used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Calcium antagonists work by blocking the build up of calcium in blood vessels. This action allows arteries to open and the blood to flow more freely. There are several different types of calcium channels in blood vessels including T-type channels and L-type channels.

Posicor works in a unique way because it affects both the T-type and L-type calcium channels of blood vessels. All other calcium antagonists block only L-type channels.

As with any medication, Posicor does have some side effects, including headache and runny nose. It is important to consult your physician.

Blood pressure occurs when the heart beats and squeezes blood into the arteries, creating pressure within them. High blood pressure means that the heart is working harder than normal, putting both the heart and the arteries under great strain.

A higher incidence of hypertension is found among African Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians. Because hypertension rarely has symptoms, it is important to make regular visits to a physician for blood pressure screening. (NAPSI)

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