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Beta Blockers Don’t Cause Depression, Fatigue and Sexual Dysfunction

 

Business New Haven
8/19/2002
By: Melissa Nicefaro

NEW HAVEN - There is no data to support the concern that beta blockers, prescribed following a heart attack to guard against future episodes, commonly cause depression, fatigue and sexual dysfunction, according to a study by Yale researchers published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Beta blockers are any of a group of drugs widely used in the treatment of patients with heart disease and hypertension.

Harlan Krumholz, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and cardiology at the Yale School of Medicine and senior investigator of the study, has was concerned about the underutilization of beta blockers by physicians as a tool in preventing future heart attacks. A study by his group in 1995 showed that 50 percent of heart attack patients who could benefit from beta blockers were not being prescribed the medication. Krumholz said that figure today may be as high as 75 percent.

To determine whether beta blockers cause depression, fatigue and sexual dysfunction, the Yale group looked at 15 clinical trials involving more than 35,000 subjects who were prescribed beta blockers for the treatment of heart attack, heart failure or hypertension.

“What we found is there is no clear evidence that use of beta blockers causes depression,” Krumholz said. “There was a slight association between use of beta blockers and resulting fatigue and sexual dysfunction.” The risk of fatigue was the equivalent of one additional report for every 57 patients treated. The risk of sexual dysfunction was one additional report of sexual dysfunction for every 199 patients treated with beta blockers.

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