THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Transcripts: 558-1 & 558-2

Week: 558.1 Guest: Stephen Soumerai, Sci.D., Assoc. Prof of Ambulatory Care, Harvard Medical School Topic: Getting reacquainted with beta-blockers ( Part 1 of 2) Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Remember beta blockers?...Coming up...

SPOT: NEMA...the National Emergency Medicine Association...fights our worst health enemies - heart disease, stroke, trauma. Call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: Stephen Soumerai, Associate Professor of ambulatory care at Harvard Medical School, refreshes our memory on a once hot medication for those who had suffered a heart attack....beta blockers.

SOUMERAI: They're drugs that reduce the heart rate, reduce the blood pressure, and reduce the demand of the heart for oxygen, and therefore, really give the heart a break, in a way. They reduce potentially dangerous types of arrhythmias, and in the long term have been shown to reduce cardiac deaths and particularly sudden deaths, in younger people up until age 75.

NEMA: We'll talk next time on the new study that reinforces its reputation, but recently, calcium channel blockers have pushed beta blockers nearly out of the picture...after studies that connected beta blockers to side effects like depression...

SOUMERAI: We now know that these concerns were grossly exaggerated, in fact, earlier data suggesting that beta blocker therapy might increase the risk of depression two fold...when they were done correctly, there was absolutely no increase in risk of depression.

NEMA: Next time, Dr. Soumerai's study on the highly positive effects of beta blocker therapies. I'm Steve Girard for The Heart of the Matter!

Transcripts:

Week: 558.2 Guest: Stephen Soumerai, Sci.D., Assoc. Prof of Ambulatory Care, Harvard Medical School Topic: Study on beta-blocker effectiveness ( Part 2 of 2) Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: An old medicine saves lives...coming up...

SPOT: 15 years in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and trauma - the National Emergency Medicine Association. Call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: A study from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care indicates beta blockers, very effective in preventing repeat heart attacks are not being widely prescribed.... probably because of misinformation about side effects, which have been proven wrong. Dr. Stephen Soumerai says of nearly four thousand elderly heart attack victims studied, only 21% were offered even a trial of the beta blockers...

SOUMERAI: And moreover, we found that those patients who received beta blockers were 43% less likely to die and had had 22% fewer cardiac hospitalizations over two years. And looking at this on a national basis translates to something on the order of 7 thousand to 10 thousand lives that could be saved each year....if these elderly patients were put on beta blockers soon after their heart attacks.

NEMA: Soumerai believes more doctors are realizing the benefits of beta blockers for their patients. Another factor is price...two dollars a month for beta blockers versus 30 to 50 dollars a month for calcium channel blockers. The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed particularly the survival benefits of beta blockers for patients over 75...a group not included in previous trials. I'm Steve Girard for The Heart of the Matter!