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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Jun;49(6):604-8.

Antihypertensive drugs and the risk of idiopathic aplastic anaemia.

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The Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, Boston University School of Medicine, 11 Muzzey Street, Lexington, MA 02421, USA.



A recent report has raised concern that nifedipine may be associated with an increased risk of aplastic anaemia. This large population-based study evaluated the risk of idiopathic aplastic anaemia in users of calcium channel blockers compared with that of other antihypertensive drugs.


The study was based on information derived from the General Practice Research Database. We conducted a follow-up study with a nested case-control analysis of 322 448 subjects who received antihypertensive drugs. Cases were people who had a first-time diagnosis of aplastic anaemia during January 1, 1988 through September 30, 1997. The risk estimate of aplastic anaemia was calculated for all antihypertensive drugs. For the nested case-control analysis, six controls were matched to each case on age, sex and general practice attended. Odds ratios compared the risk of idiopathic aplastic anaemia for all antihypertensive drugs relative to nonusers.


There were 13 cases of newly diagnosed idiopathic aplastic anaemia. The estimated risk of aplastic anaemia per 100 000 users was 0.8 (95% CI 0.1, 4.7) for calcium channel blockers, 1.4 (95% CI 0.5, 4.1) for beta-adrenoceptor blockers, 2.3 (95% CI 0.6, 8.6) for angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and 5.9 (95% CI 1.6, 21.5) for users of other antihypertensive drugs. In the case-control analysis of 13 cases and 77 controls, the odds ratio was 0.3 (95% CI 0.02, 3.3) for calcium channel blockers, 0.5 (95% CI 0.1, 2.5) for beta-adrenoceptor blockers, 0.7 (95% CI 0.1, 5.6) for ACE inhibitors, 1.2 (95% CI 0.1, 11.8) for users of other antihypertensive drugs and 0.7 (95% CI 0.1, 7.2) for users of multiple drugs with a calcium channel blocker compared with nonusers.


The present study suggests that the use of calcium channel blockers is not associated with an increased risk of aplastic anaemia.

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