A human guinea pig

My other worry about this treatment was the cost. I was told by the chemist that Plavix (a blood-thinner), for example, cost £56 for a month’s supply.

Now, I’m taking a ‘water pill’, bendroflumethiazide (2.5 mg), which does not hurt my stomach, and does not interfere with my kidney function (so far). And my blood pressure is more or less normal.

But I can’t help feeling that I’ve been treated as a guinea pig, and might have ended up with stomach ulcers or similar if I’d carried on with all the stuff I was being given. – Brigitte French, via e-mail

WDDTY replies: We’re sorry to say that bendroflumethiazide, a diuretic, comes with its own problems. In fact, around 3 per cent of patients using diuretics find the accompanying side-effects unacceptable (Pharmacotherapy, 2001; 21: 940-53). These include impotence, dizziness on standing (due to too-low blood pressure), blood disorders, skin reactions, gout, pancreatitis, and depleted levels of potassium, magnesium, coenzyme Q10 and zinc. There is also evidence that diuretics may be ‘harmful’ in people with coronary heart disease (J Cardiovasc Pharmacol, 1990; 16: 58-63). For safer ways to keep blood pressure in check, see WDDTY vol 14 no 8.

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What Doctors Don't Tell You Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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