May 5, 2006

Race influences side effects of heart drugs

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Compared with patients of other
ethnicities, black and East Asian patients are at increased
risk for various adverse reactions when taking cardiovascular
drugs, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

Ethnic group "may be one determinant of harms of a given
treatment in the individual patient, either because it acts as
a surrogate measure of genetic make up or because cultural
factors alter the risk," senior author Dr. Robin E. Ferner and
colleagues note.

Ferner, from City Hospital in Birmingham, UK, and
colleagues pooled data from 24 studies to examine ethnic
differences in the side effects of cardiovascular agents.

Black patients taking blood pressure lowering drugs called
ACE inhibitors were three times more likely to develop
angioedema -- localized swelling that usually affects the face,
throat, lips or tongue -- than their non-black counterparts.

In addition, black ethnicity raised the risk of bleeding in
the brain from clot-busting therapy by 50 percent.

East Asian patients were also at heightened risk for side
effects when taking cardiovascular drugs. In particular, they
were nearly three times more likely to experience cough with
ACE inhibitor therapy than were white patients.

The authors think future studies looking at cardiovascular
agents should take into account the potential for different
side effect profiles based on race.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, online May 4, 2006.