Diuretics Best for High Blood Pressure
Cheaper Drugs Are More Effective at Preventing Stroke, Heart Failure
By Jim Kling
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
on Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Dec. 17, 2002 -- When it comes to medications to treat high blood pressure, newer isn't necessarily better. In fact, researchers say that in light of new findings from a landmark study, diuretics should be the top choice for combating high blood pressure.
That is the conclusion reached following a massive clinical trial comparing the effects of newer blood pressure drugs to diuretics, which have been around for a much longer time -- and are much cheaper. Specifically, the diuretic studied -- chlorthalidone -- was substantially better at preventing heart failure and stroke that can occur as a result of high blood pressure.
The main diuretic used today is hydrochlorothiazide, or HCTZ, which has fewer side effects than chlorthalidone, the diuretic used in this study. HCTZ is often combined with other diuretics into one pill.
The results of the study, called ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial), appear in the Dec. 18 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The results will likely have doctors rethinking how they treat high blood pressure, which affects about one in four American adults, and is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.