Category Archives: Hypertension

Hypertension 4: EBM Special

We reviewed some evidence on the treatment of hypertension that are contradictory to the CHEP 2013 guidelines summarized in our previous episodes.

Salt restriction for hypertension

CHEP 2013: 1500 mg of sodium per day is recommended for adults age 50 years or less; 1300 mg per day if age 51 to 70 years; and 1200 mg per day if age greater than 70 years

Tools for practice: “Cutting out the sodium: The bland supremacy?”

“The impact of salt intake on CVD outcomes is controversial. Trials demonstrating beneficial trends enrolled patients with an average sodium intake of 3900 mg/day and reduced their intake on average by 900mg/day. More evidence with clinical outcomes is required to better define benefits/harms with different levels of daily sodium intake.”

Hypertension treatment target for diabetes

CHEP 2013: BP target for diabetes is 130/80mmHg, and 140/90 for others

Cochrane: “Blood pressure targets for hypertension in people with diabetes mellitus”

“The only significant benefit in the group assigned to ‘lower’ systolic blood pressure was a small reduction in the incidence of stroke (ACCORD 1.1%ARR SBP <140 vs <120), but with a significantly larger increase in the number of other serious adverse events (ARI 2%). The effect of systolic blood pressure targets on mortality was compatible with both a reduction and increase in risk. There was no benefit associated with a ‘lower’ diastolic blood pressure target (trend towards less stroke RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.05)”

Tools for Practice: “When Treating Blood Pressure, what is the Evidence for Specific Targets?”

Treating mild hypertension

CHEP 2013: treatment threshold 160/100, treatment target 140/90 for uncomplicated hypertension

Cochrane: “Pharmacotherapy for mild hypertension”

“For individuals with mildly elevated blood pressures(systolic blood pressure (BP) 140-159 mmHg and/or diastolic BP 90-99 mmHg) treatment for 4 to 5 years with antihypertensive drugs as compared to placebo did not reduce total mortality (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.63, 1.15). In 7,080 participants treatment with antihypertensive drugs as compared to placebo did not reduce coronary heart disease (RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.80, 1.57), stroke (RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.24, 1.08), or total cardiovascular events (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.72, 1.32). Withdrawals due to adverse effects were increased by drug therapy (RR 4.80, 95%CI 4.14, 5.57), Absolute risk increase (ARI) 9%.”

Which first line agent for hypertension is actually first line?

CHEP 2013:  beta-blocker is considered a first line choice in patients younger than 60 years of age (Grade B), among ACEI, ARB, thiazides, CCB

Therapeutics Initiative Letter #82: “Clinical Hypertension Pearls from The Cochrane Library”

Cochrane: “First-line drugs for hypertension”

mortality stroke CHD CVS
Thiazides (19 RCTs) RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.83, 0.96 RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.57, 0.7 RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.75, 0.95 RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.66, 0.76
Low-dose thiazides (8 RCTs) RR 0.72, 95% CI 0.61, 0.84
high-dose thiazides (11 RCTs) RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.85, 1.20
Beta-blockers (5 RCTs) RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.86, 1.07 RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.72, 0.97 RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.78, 1.03 RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.81, 0.98
ACE inhibitors (3 RCTs) RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.72-0.95 RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.52-0.82 RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.70-0.94 RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.67-0.85
Calcium-channel blocker (1 RCT) RR 0.86 95% CI 0.68, 1.09 RR 0.58, 95% CI 0.41, 0.84 RR 0.77 95% CI 0.55, 1.09 RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.57, 0.87
ARB (no RCT)

“Most of the evidence demonstrated that first-line low-dose thiazides reduce mortality and morbidity (stroke, heart attack and heart failure). No other drug class improved health outcomes better than low-dose thiazides, and beta-blockers and high-dose thiazides were inferior. Low-dose thiazides should be the first choice drug in most patients with elevated blood pressure. Fortunately, thiazides are also very inexpensive.”

Tools for Practice: “Is hydrochlorothiazide the best thiazide diuretic for hypertension?”

Cochrane: “Calcium channel blockers versus other classes of drugs for hypertension” 

Cochrane: “Beta-blockers for hypertension”

“Angiotensin receptor blockers versus ACE inhibitors: prevention of death and myocardial infarction in high-risk populations”.

“Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), not angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), are preferred and effective mode of therapy in high cardiovascular risk patients.”

What time should a patient take the blood pressure medications?

Tools for practice: “Taking blood pressure-lowering medications at night”

“Taking one or more BP meds before bed may potentially help reduce cardiovascular risk but due to limitations of the evidence, strong recommendations are difficult.”

MAPEC trial

Side note about confidence interval worship

I mentioned how a statistically insignificant risk reduction in stroke could actually be clinically significant. Check out this article by Dr McCormack et al on “How confidence intervals become confusion intervals” on this very topic.

(Originally published on January 18, 2014.)

Hypertension 3: antihypertensives

Listen to Tina the pharmacist discuss the 5 first-line antihypertensives:

  1. Thiazides
  2. ACE Inhibitors
  3. Angiotensin Receptor Blockers
  4. Beta Blockers
  5. Calcium Channel Blockers

She lists the mechanism of action, dosing, side effects, drug interactions, and cautionary notes of each drug classes and their representative drug.

This episode is wrapped up with Billy’s summary of the learning points from the 3-episode series on Hypertension:

  • essential hypertension is a diagnosis of exclusion. we need to consider treatable causes of hypertension especially for people who do not have the usual risk factors.
  • diagnosing a patient with hypertension is a careful process. for those without comorbidities or cardiovascular treatment, it can take a many as 5 visits averaging a BP of 140/90 to make a diagnosis. use home BP measurement if you suspect white coat hypertension.
  • the treatment threshold for uncomplicated patients is 160/100, and threshold for those with end organ damage or increased CV risk is 140/90.
  • a trial of lifestyle management to control BP is appropriate for most uncomplicated patients. it should always be a part of the management plan even for those who are on medication.
  • Treatment target is 140/90, unless the patient has diabetes, for this the threshold is 130/80.
  • For an elderly patient above 80 yo, systolic treatment target is 150
  • the first line agents are thiazides, ACEI, ARB, BB, and CCB. specific agents may be indicated for specific comorbidities
  • antihypertensive are among the most commonly used medications, but one must not forget that they carry many potentially serious side effects and can interact with other medications. when in doubt, consult your favorite pharmacist

Hypertension 2: CHEP 2013 Guideline cont.

We looked to the CHEP guidelines again for their recommendations on hypertension treatment thresholds, targets, lifestyle management, pharmacologic treatments, and suggested medications for specific comorbidities.

Treatment guidelines on CHEP:

DASH diet: