Safe heart pill gives hope to asthmatics

Asthma can be a side effect of beta-blockers

Asthma can be a side effect of beta-blockers

Patients with heart disease could benefit from a new type of beta-blocker being developed by British doctors.

Beta-blockers are used by most of Britain's 2.6 million heart disease and angina sufferers.

But around 300,000 patients who also suffer from respiratory problems cannot use the drugs.

Beta-blockers work by blocking the production of adrenaline, helping reduce the heart's workload.

But the drugs can worsen asthma and breathing problems.

This is because they block receptors in the lungs responsible for keeping them clear, which means that in people with asthma it could precipitate an attack.

Beta-blockers also make the lungs unresponsive to drugs used to control asthma.

But now a team of scientists from Nottingham University's Schools of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy are developing a modified beta-blocker after discovering a molecule that helps the heart function better without harming the lungs.

'Once developed, this molecule will cause much less wheezing and shortness of breath in patients with heart and lung diseases,' says lead researcher Dr Jill Baker.

Clinical trials of a pill containing the molecule should start within three years.

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