The calcium antagonist controversy: A posthumous commentary

Franz H. Messerli*, Ehud Grossman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In 1995, some retrospective reports showed that certain patients treated with short-acting calcium antagonists were at increased risk for myocardial infarction and had a higher mortality rate compared with patients treated with other cardiovascular drugs. Subsequent reports attempted to establish a connection between calcium antagonists and disorders as diverse as malignancy, Parkinsonism, cognitive dysfunction, and suicide. However, other retrospective studies and, more compelling, several prospective studies have reported that calcium antagonists exert a beneficial effect on morbidity and mortality in a variety of cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease after myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy. Calcium antagonists are a heterogeneous drug class, and distinct differences have been documented between short- and long-acting, as well as between dihydropyridine and nondihydropyridine, agents. Sympathetic activation, which is a risk factor for coronary events, occurs with short-acting agents only and is absent with long-acting calcium antagonists. Recent data make it extremely unlikely that calcium antagonists increase the risk of malignancy by affecting apoptosis or immunosuppression or both. Long-acting calcium antagonists have distinct benefits in patients with hypertension and diabetes and may be more beneficial than other drugs in patients with diabetes and left ventricular hypertrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number9 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1998


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