Patients Should Wait to take Bystolic Until 2015, Group Warns

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: May 10th, 2013

A prominent watchdog group is warning against use of the hypertension drug Bystolic, indicating that it could cause severe breathing problems and that it appears to provide no advantage over taking cheaper, more thoroughly studied hypertension drugs.  

In the latest edition of Public Citizen’s Worst Pills, Best Pills newsletter (subscription required), the consumer advocacy group urges patients to explore other means of lowering blood pressure, including changes to diet, exercise and decreased salt and alcohol intake, instead of taking Bystolic. Public Citizen warns that consumers should wait until at least 2015 before using the drug.

Bystolic (nebivolol) was approved in December 2007 by the FDA for the treatment of hypertension. It is a member of a class of drugs known as beta-one selective beta blockers. Public Citizen recommend that new drugs should be on the market for seven years before readers use the medications, allowing enough time for postmarketing analysis to reveal potential long-term side effects.

At high doses, the drug could lose its selectivity and block beta-two receptors as well, the group warns. This could cause problems among patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), because other non-selective beta blockers, such as Normodyne and Trandate, can inhibit muscle relaxation throughout the body and the upper airway, impairing bronchial and bronchiolar dilation.

The drug’s label warns that it should be avoided by users suffering from heart failure, slow or irregular heartbeat, severe liver damage or who have asthma and COPD. Common side effects also include heart failure and fatigue.

A study published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that beta blockers, often prescribed to prevent strokes and heart problems, may provide little benefit. Researchers found that statistically the drugs did not appear to have any benefit in lowering heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke rates. However, they warned that more randomized drug trials needed to be undertaken to get a better sense of the class’s efficacy.

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  1. I’ve been taking Bystolic since about 2008 or 09 for high blood pressure. I was extremely upset to learn that this isn’t something that you can just stop taking. In 2010 I started suffering for fainting or near fainting spells but only while sitting. I was afraid to tell anyone until I fainted while driving one night in December 2012. Since then we have been trying to figure out why. I’ve had a battery of neurological testing and cardiac testing….found a slow heartbeat and was unable to raise my heart rate even with activity…in June 2013 I received a pacemaker for braydicardia I’m only 50. During all the testing I asked if Bystolic could be the reason for all of this….I never get response from anyone. Now my health insurance shows Bystolic as a high risk drug because of my medical issues. So I did some more reading on it. I slows down the heart and reduces the the amount blood that moves through the heart. So I have a pacemaker for my heart that is too slow and won’tl speed up …. never had an issue before……less blood pumping through my heart and not getting to the my limbs and brain possibly causing my fainting….I never fainted before in my life until after I started taking Bystolic. I want to stop taking it but I’ve read that it should be done slowly and under doctors care.

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