Could a heart medication stop violent crimes from happening?

Could a heart medication stop violent crimes from happening?

Marcin Wisnios

Marcin Wisnios

Beta-blockers slow your heart rate. Doctors prescribe them to patients with cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, or even to treat mental health issues like anxiety. They are so effective at calming people down that they are even banned from certain sporting competitions that require regular, controlled movements such as archery or fishing.

Now it turns out that the calming effects of beta-blockers might even help reduce violence. A new study published on January 31 in the journal OLP Medicine found that people taking beta-blockers were less likely to become aggressive or be charged with a violent crime. The authors believe this opens even more doors for drugs to be used to treat mental problems like aggression and violence.

“Beta-blockers work by blocking the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are hormones associated with stress and one of the bases of the ‘fight or flight’ response,” Seena Fazel, a psychiatry researcher at the University of Oxford and co-author of the study, told the Daily Beast in an email. She added that it could cause the body to respond to “stressful and threatening situations”.

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By stopping the effects of adrenaline, beta-blockers allow the heart to pump normally and feel calmer, mitigating the increase in physiological processes that might otherwise encourage someone to act aggressively or violently. And other research has shown that beta-blockers can be used to treat certain mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and even arachnophobia.

For the new study, researchers looked at 1.4 million beta-blocker users in Sweden over an eight-year period from 2006 to 2013, assessing how the patients behaved when taking or not taking the medication. The authors found that beta-blocker treatments were associated with a 13% reduced risk of being charged with a violent crime, as well as an 8% reduced risk of being hospitalized for a disorder. psychiatric.

Of course, these are just correlations, meaning researchers aren’t sure if beta-blockers are causing the effect. They note that the associations varied depending on the users’ psychiatric history and heart condition. And the researchers also found that people on beta-blockers experienced an 8% increase in people being treated for suicidal behavior.

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However, Fazel said beta-blockers were not the “cause of this increased suicide risk” and that it was likely due to the negative psychological reactions users had to having physical problems like heart problems.

It should be noted though that there is still a lot that scientists don’t understand about beta-blockers and their effects. There has been research in the past that suggests an association between use of the drug and increased suicidal ideation. However, there is not enough research to establish a conclusive link.

While the authors said more research is needed on the association of beta-blockers and reduced violence, if there is is evidence that shows the drug works to suppress violent tendencies, it could be used to help people struggling with anger and aggression to manage their emotions and actions.

“We hope the results will lead to research using different study designs, such as randomized controlled trials of beta-blockers for violence and aggression in high-risk groups,” Fazel said.

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