From rxpgnews.com

Hypertension
Beta Blockers No More First Choice for Hypertension
By M.I.N.D.S.
Jun 29, 2006, 01:18

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK and the National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions, in conjunction with the British Hypertension Society (BHS) on Wednesday 28 June launched the keenly awaited updated clinical guideline on the management of hypertension. The guideline updates the recommendations for the pharmacological management of hypertension contained in the original NICE guideline published in August 2004. Based on a thorough review of recently published data, the guideline sets the gold standard for the optimum pharmacological management of hypertension and in so doing seeks to decrease morbidity and mortality resulting from cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, chronic renal failure and coronary heart disease for which hypertension is a significant risk factor.

It is estimated that some 40 per cent of adults in England and Wales have hypertension and this proportion increases with age. In 2001, the NHS funded 90 million prescriptions for drugs that lower blood pressure, accounting for nearly 15 per cent of the total annual cost of all primary care drugs. Nonetheless, hypertension is often inadequately treated.

In formulating the recommendations, the Guideline Development Group (GDG) considered not only data from the new studies, but also adverse events data and a detailed health economic analysis comparing the cost-effectiveness of the main drug classes. The GDG also considered the cause, development, and effects of hypertension and the mechanism of action of the different classes of blood pressure lowering drugs allowing for age and ethnicity.
Courtesy: Blood Pressure Association (BPA)

The updated recommendations in the guideline include the following:
In hypertensive patients aged 55 and over, or Black patients* of any age, first choice of initial therapy should be either a calcium channel blocker or a thiazide-type diuretic.
*Black patients are those of African or Caribbean descent, and not mixed race, Asian or Chinese patients.

In hypertensive patients younger than 55, first choice initial therapy should be an ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated).

If initial therapy was with a calcium channel blocker or thiazide-type diuretic and a second drug is required, add an ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated). If initial therapy was with an ACE inhibitor, add a calcium channel blocker or a thiazide-type diuretic.

If treatment with three drugs is required, the combination of ACE inhibitor (or an Angiotensin receptor blocker if an ACE inhibitor is not tolerated), calcium channel blocker and thiazide-type diuretic should be used.


The decision not to recommend Beta-blockers for first line therapy is based on evidence that suggests that they perform less well than other drugs, particularly in the elderly, and the increasing evidence that the most frequently used Beta-blockers at usual doses carries an unacceptable risk of provoking type 2 diabetes. The guideline also makes recommendations beyond a 3-drug combination, where, although the evidence is less certain, the GDG took into account existing guidelines and constructed recommendations most compatible with current good practice.


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