July 13 (UPI) -- Women who take beta blockers for high blood pressure are at nearly 5 percent higher risk for heart failure than men, even if they have no history of heart disease, a study published Monday in the journal Hypertension found.
Women who had a type of heart attack called acute myocardial infarction were just over 6 percent more likely to have heart failure than men with the condition, the researchers found.
"What we found presents a solid case for re-examination of the use of beta blocker therapy for women with [high blood pressure]," study co-author Dr. Raffaele Bugiardini, professor of cardiology at the University of Bologna in Italy, said in a statement.
"It's possible that the increased risk of heart failure for women is due to an interaction between hormone replacement therapy and beta blockers, though this information was not collected or tested in our study," he said.
The findings are based on an analysis of health data on patients admitted to the hospital with acute coronary syndrome, or ACS, a group of conditions associated with a sudden loss of blood flow to the heart, Bugiardini and his colleagues said.
Roughly 40 percent of those with ACS suffer an acute myocardial infarction, also known as ST-segment elevation MI, or STEMI, according to the American Heart Association.
STEMI occurs when a coronary artery is completely blocked and a large part of the heart muscle is unable to receive blood, Bugiardini said.
Beta blockers like atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol and propranolol are designed to reduce high blood pressure, he said. They are typically prescribed for adults with the condition, also called hypertension, which is a leading cause of heart disease, he said.
The researchers focused on nearly 14,000 patients from 12 European countries included in three clinical registries for heart failure between October 2010 and July 2018. All of the patients had hypertension, but no history of heart disease, the researchers said.
Patients were classified by sex and then separated into two groups: those taking beta blockers and those who were not.
Among those taking beta blockers, women had a 4.6 percent higher rate of heart failure than men after being admitted to the hospital with acute coronary syndrome, according to the researchers.
Similarly, women who suffered a STEMI had a 6.1 percent higher rate of heart failure than men who suffered the same type of acute myocardial infarction, the researchers said.
In general, risk for death among both men and women with heart failure was about seven times higher than that of patients with acute myocardial infarction and no heart failure complications, they said, noting that men and women not taking beta blockers had about the same rate of heart failure.
"For women who have no history of cardiovascular disease and only hypertension, we think it is incredibly important for them to regulate their blood pressure through diet and exercise," Bugiardini said.