JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Calcium channel blockers versus other classes of drugs for hypertension

Ning Chen, Muke Zhou, Mi Yang, Jian Guo, Cairong Zhu, Jie Yang, Yucai Wang, Xue Yang, Li He
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010 August 4, (8): CD003654
20687074

BACKGROUND: Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are a relatively new antihypertensive class. The effect of first-line CCBs on the prevention of cardiovascular events, as compared with other antihypertensive drug classes, is unknown.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether CCBs used as first-line therapy for hypertension are different from other first-line drug classes in reducing the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events.

SEARCH STRATEGY: Electronic searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASEand the WHO-ISH Collaboration Register (up to May 2009) were performed. We also checked the references of published studies to identify additional trials.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing first-line CCBs with other antihypertensive classes, with at least 100 randomized hypertensive participants and with a follow-up of at least two years.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected the included trials, evaluated the risk of bias and entered the data for analysis.

MAIN RESULTS: Eighteen RCTs (14 dihydropyridines, 4 non-dihydropyridines) with a total of 141,807 participants were included. All-cause mortality was not different between first-line CCBs and any other first-line antihypertensive classes. CCBs reduced the following outcomes as compared to beta-blockers: total cardiovascular events (RR 0.84, 95% CI [0.77, 0.92]), stroke (RR 0.77, 95% CI [0.67, 0.88]) and cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.90, 95% CI [0.81, 0.99]). CCBs increased total cardiovascular events (RR 1.05 , 95% CI [1.00, 1.09], p = 0.03) and congestive heart failure events (RR 1.37, 95% CI [1.25, 1.51]) as compared to diuretics. CCBs reduced stroke (RR 0.89, 95% CI [0.80, 0.98]) as compared to ACE inhibitors and reduced stroke (RR 0.85, 95% CI [0.73, 0.99]) and MI (RR 0.83, 95% CI [0.72, 0.96]) as compared to ARBs. CCBs also increased congestive heart failure events as compared to ACE inhibitors (RR 1.16, 95% CI [1.06, 1.27]) and ARBs (RR 1.20, 95% CI [1.06, 1.36]). The other evaluated outcomes were not significantly different.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Diuretics are preferred first-line over CCBs to optimize reduction of cardiovascular events. The review does not distinguish between CCBs, ACE inhibitors or ARBs, but does provide evidence supporting the use of CCBs over beta-blockers. Many of the differences found in the current review are not robust and further trials might change the conclusions. More well-designed RCTs studying the mortality and morbidity of patients taking CCBs as compared with other antihypertensive drug classes are needed for patients with different stages of hypertension, different ages, and with different co-morbidities such as diabetes.

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