Can Heart Medicine Prevent Violent Crime?

Can Heart Medicine Prevent Violent Crime?

Can Heart Medicine Prevent Violent Crime?

Can Heart Medicine Prevent Violent Crime?

Marcin Wisnios

Beta blockers slow down the heart. Doctors prescribe them to patients who are dealing with cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure or even to treat mental problems like anxiety. They are so effective at calming people down that they are even banned from some competitive sports that require steady, controlled movements like archery or fishing.

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

“Beta blockers work by blocking the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones associated with stress and the basis of the ‘fight or flight’ response,” Seena Fazel, a psychiatric researcher at the University of Oxford and co-author of the study’s book, told The Daily Beast in an email. She added that this could result in the body’s response to “stressful and threatening situations”.

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By stopping the action of adrenaline, beta blockers allow the heart to pump normally and feel calmer, dampening the rise in physiological processes that might otherwise prompt someone to act aggressively or violently. Other studies have shown that beta blockers can be used to treat some psychological problems such as 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 patients behaved while on and off the medication. The authors found that beta blocker treatment was associated with a 13 percent lower chance of being charged with a violent crime, and was also associated with an 8 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder.

Of course, these are just correlations—meaning the researchers don’t know for sure whether beta-blockers are causing the effect or not. They note that the associations differed depending on the users’ previous psychiatric history and their heart condition. The researchers also found that people on beta blockers experienced an 8 percent increase in being treated for suicidal behavior.

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

However, it is worth noting that there is still much that scientists do not understand about beta blockers and their effects. There have been some studies in the past that indicate a link between drug use and increased suicidal ideation. However, there is not enough research to establish a definitive link.

Although the authors said more research is needed on the association between beta blockers and reduced violence, if any is Evidence showing that the drug works to curb violent tendencies could be used to help individuals struggling with anger and aggression 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.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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