NEW DELHI: If you are hypertensive and have been prescribed one of the widely used class of medicines called beta blockers—drugs like atenolol, inderal and metaprolol— you could be running an unacceptable risk of diabetes. Recent research in the UK indicates that these drugs could increase blood sugar in patients suffering from diabetes, and in some cases led to onset of the disease among patients of high blood pressure. The study, carried out at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, concluded that the use of beta blockers greatly increases diabetes risk in hypertension patients. The research proposed to determine the baseline predictors of new-onset diabetes in hypertensive patients. Among 19,257 hypertensive patients in the trial who were randomly assigned to receive one of two antihypertensive regimens using beta blockers, 14,120 were at risk of developing diabetes at baseline. Of these, 1,366 (9.7%) subsequently developed NOD during median follow-up of 5.5 years. Says Dr Anoop Misra, director and head (diabetes and metabolic diseases) Fortis Hospitals: "In patients with hypertension, beta blocker drugs are no longer frontline therapy. These drugs may not only increase blood sugar levels in those who don't have diabetes, but may worsen sugar control in those with diabetes and also blunt warning symptoms when low sugar occurs." Mishra, however, added that these drugs were still useful in patients of diabetes and hypertension with associated heart disease. Newer beta blockers may have some advantage over the previous generation drugs, he said. As a result, doctors have begun restricting the use of beta blockers among diabetics and those suffering from high blood pressure.