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Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 16:14

Experts urge correct use of antihypertensive drugs

By Carrie Qiu

HONG KONG - Public education on the correct use of anti-hypertensive drugs must be strengthened as overdose can lead to fatal condition, medication safety experts warned.

They made the warning after noticing that many patients have increased dosage without seeking doctor's advice when their blood pressure level rose.

According to William Chui Chun-ming, director of the Centre for Medication Safety Practice and Research at the University of Hong Kong, overdosing anti-hypertensive drugs can lead to hypotension. Symptoms include dizziness, muscle weakness and difficulties concentrating, Chui said.

He stressed that those with low blood pressure are particularly dangerous behind the wheel as they would not be able to make appropriate judgment, resulting in car accidents.

Local media reported that a bus driver involved in a fatal accident in Lam Tin last week felt “dizziness” and “fainted” moments before the crash. He had taken anti-hypertensive medication a few hours before the accident, which claimed the life of one passenger and injured 18 others.

Overdosing anti-hypertensive drugs can lead to hypotension

William Chui, director of Centre for Medication Safety Practice and Research

The HKU research center on Tuesday released a list of five common anti-hypertensive medications that may lead to risks of low blood pressure when improperly used. Among the top two on the list were the vasodilators and beta-blockers.

They are only safe to use under doctors’ guidance, said Chui. But he said many patients would increase dosage or try new drugs on their own.

"Many patients would take a higher dosage when they had high-sodium diet, or try new drugs recommended by friends,” said Chui.

Chui suggested the Hospital Authority assign pharmacists to inform patients about drug usage.

He also suggested that when public transport companies should ask for applicants’ medication profile while recruiting drivers. They should also review drivers’ profile during their medical check-up.

Moreover, a number of antibiotics can influence the effect of anti-hypertensive drugs, Chui said. The said clarithromycin and erythromycin -- for instance "slow down one’s metabolism", and lengthen the effect of anti-hypertensive drugs.

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