alpha blocker

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I spotted an article in the NYT online today, The Evidence Gap: The Minimal Impact of a Big Hypertension Study which at first I thought I’d bypass but then decided, what the heck, I’ll read it. Toward the end of the first page I suddenly came across mention of my least favorite medication, Cardura.

The article is about a massive hypertension study called ALLHAT, short for Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial.

The purpose of the ALLHAT was to compare four drugs for effectiveness on people over age 55, a diuretic called chlorthalidone; an ACE inhibitor called lisinopril; a calcium channel blocker called amlodipine; and an alpha blocker called doxazosin, which Pfizer sold as Cardura.

Ah, there’s my old “friend”, Cardura — who was supposed to keep me from peeing in the night but instead knocked me out cold — as part of a big study. What did they find out about it?, I wondered.

Well. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Here’s the very next paragraph in the article:
Pfizer’s bet on Cardura proved a big mistake. As the Allhat data came in, patients taking Cardura were nearly twice as likely as those receiving the diuretic to require hospitalization for heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood adequately. Concerned, the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute announced in March 2000 that it had stopped the Cardura part of the trial. Ha ha. Cardura went out in 2000 and yet I take it in 2008. Amazing!

Perhaps the reason I took that Cardura pill on November 1, 2008, was that Pfizer didn’t like losing its bet on Cardura and fought back like a giant corporation. They managed to defeat a lawsuit by two patients who then went the route of a Citizen Petition. Read all about it here.

The Citizen Petition brought the FDA into the fray, a year after the original findings of the ALLHAT. Some of the outside experts at the FDA meeting claimed the ALLHAT data were not accurate while other experts disagreed. The FDA considered the net result a wash, and so, no warning was issued to doctors and patients about Cardura.

Well, I’d like to issue my own warning!

Here ye! Here ye! Here ye! I, Marden H. Seavey, issue my own warning about the dangerous medication Cardura. It caused me to faint and crash on our bathroom floor injuring my back and rib cage musculature, and I’m still sore a month later.

Worse, the little 2mg Cardura pill lowered my heart rate into the 30′s which worried the doctors at the hospital until the rate finally recovered. This was about eight hours after I had passed out. A cardiovascular specialist has given me thoroughgoing tests (echo cardiogram and Holter monitor for 24 hours), and now declares I don’t have to see him for a year.

His warning to me: Just don’t take Cardura!

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Wow, I’m not going to take THAT again . There I was around 3am last Saturday morning, sitting peacefully on the toilet when suddenly I felt violently ill, and the next thing I knew my cheek was hit by a cold bathroom tile. A few seconds later I realized I had passed out. My wife helped me up off the bathroom floor and guided me back to bed.

It seems I had taken a 2mg dosage of the Doxazosin Mesylate (brand name innocuous enough: Cardura) around 10:30pm Friday evening. This was my first time with the stuff and I thought I’d give it a whirl. After all, I had a great time at the Halloween Open Mic Friday evening and particularly enjoyed singing my favorite song, with Heather Pierson’s great piano accompaniment, When the Night Wind Howls out of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore. But it turned out it was Cardura that gave me the whirl!

This medication was prescribed for me by a urologist because of its effectiveness in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). But also it’s a blood pressure medicine, a so-called alpha blocker, and I’m already taking a beta blocker for my hypertension. How many blockers can one tolerate? Too many blockers and blood pressure could in principle go to zero! Not good.

The info sheet on the medication, which I hadn’t read, warns about the dizziness it could produce, due to blood pressure and heart rate drop, so the advice is to take the pill at bedtime. Of course, a person with that benign prostatic hyperplasia, like me, might want to get up to go to the bathroom. End of story.

My fall on the cold bathroom floor caused quite a bruise on the side of the head and also my back and side muscles were badly bruised, so that when I got back in bed I found I couldn’t move without experiencing severe pain. So, off to the emergency room I went on a stretcher. My first ambulance ride. The Doc on call over the weekend has rearranged my hypertension and other meds, and the day after tomorrow I’ll go to my primary care provider and reevaluate the meds.

Maybe I should go off my meds entirely!!! YIPPPEEEEE! Off my meds!! Well, only for a day as a celebration if Obama wins tomorrow! If he doesn’t, maybe I’ll just double up on them and go poof.

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