Current recommendations for the treatment of hypertension: are they still valid?

Marvin Moser
Journal of Hypertension. Supplement: Official Journal of the International Society of Hypertension 2002, 20 (1): S3-10
Recent trials have helped to clarify indications for the initial pharmacological therapy of hypertension. Both the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC VI) and World Health Organization-international Society of Hypertension (WHO-ISH) recommendations should be revised. The more recent trials indicate that: (1) diuretics and beta-blockers appear to be as effective in reducing overall morbidity/ mortality as other agents (Swedish Trial in Old Patients with Hypertension [STOP-2], United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study [UKPDS], Intervention as a Goal in Hypertension Treatment [INSIGHT], Nordic diltiazem [NORDIL]); (2) the use of an a-blocker results in more cardiovascular events, especially congestive heart failure, when compared with a diuretic (Antihypertensive Therapy and Lipid Lowering Heart Attack Trial [ALLHAT]); (3)the use of an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor results in fewer myocardial infarctions and episodes of heart failure than calcium channel blockers in the elderly and in diabetic patients (Fosinopril vs. Amlodipine Cardiovascular Events Randomized Trial [FACET], Appropriate Blood Pressure Control in Diabetes [ABCD], STOP-2) - other data (Captopril Prevention Project [CAPPP]) suggest that the use of an ACE inhibitor is preferred in diabetic patients; (4) overall cardiovascular events are similar with calcium channel blockers compared with a diuretic - however, there are fewer strokes with non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (NORDIL) and a trend towards an increase in heart failure and myocardial infarctions with either a dihydropyridine or non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers compared with a diuretic (INSIGHT, NORDIL); (5) angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) will decrease proteinuria and slow progression of renal disease in type 2 diabetic patients when compared with regimens that do not include an ARB or an ACE inhibitor (Reduction of Endpoints in NIDDM with the Angiotensin II Antagonist Losartan [RENAAL], Irbesartan Type II Diabetic Nephropathy Trial [IDNT], Irbesartan Type II Diabetes with Microalbuminuria [IRMA Il]). The debate over initial therapy may be moot. High-risk hypertensive patients should probably be treated initially with combination therapy, one of which should be a diuretic. The use of diuretics and beta-blockers as well as ACE-inhibitors alone or with a diuretic should be considered as initial therapy (a change from JNCVI). Alpha-blockers should be reserved for special situations, i.e. prostatic hypertrophy (in contrast to WHO-ISH recommendations). An ACE-inhibitor or ARB, usually along with a diuretic, can be considered as preferred therapy in hypertensive diabetic patients. Some data suggest equal or greater reduction in strokes with a calcium channel blocker than other medications.

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