Medline ® Abstracts for References 1,3,5
of 'Can drug therapy be discontinued in well-controlled hypertension?'
Antihypertensive therapy. To stop or not to stop?
Schmieder RE, Rockstroh JK, Messerli FH
The benefits of continuous antihypertensive therapy have been extensively documented. However, lack of compliance with the prescribed regimen, excessive cost, and troublesome adverse effects of some antihypertensive agents led to the consideration of intermittent therapy or even complete discontinuation of therapy as an effective alternative to lifelong medication. Prospective studies dealing with this subject reported inconsistent results. Nevertheless, they allowed us to identify selection criteria of candidates for step-down or discontinuation of antihypertensive therapy. Such candidates include patients with mild essential hypertension who have one or more of the following characteristics: young age, normal body weight, low salt intake, no alcohol consumption, low pretreatment blood pressure, successful therapy with one drug only, and no or only minimal signs of target organ damage. Stopping antihypertensive therapy without subsequent rise in arterial pressure was shown to be possible in a subset of patients with mild essential hypertension for a period of months to years. This approach appears to be safe, provided that blood pressure is monitored frequently, and may improve compliance, save treatment costs, and reduce adverse effects of certain drugs, although its long-term consequences for morbidity and mortality remain to be determined.
Department of Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Federal Republic of Germany.
Effects of reduction in drugs or dosage after long-term control of systemic hypertension.
Freis ED, Thomas JR, Fisher SG, Hamburger R, Borreson RE, Mezey KC, Mukherji B, Neal WW, Perry HM, Taguchi JT
Am J Cardiol. 1989;63(11):702.
The possibility of discontinuing--compared to reducing--antihypertensive drug treatment was investigated in 606 male hypertensive patients with entry diastolic blood pressure (BP) in the range of 90 to 114 mm Hg. Diastolic BP was controlled at less than 90 mm Hg with 1 of 4 regimens: low dose hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), 25 mg twice daily; high dose HCTZ, 50 mg twice daily; or high dose HCTZ plus a low or high dose of a step II drug (propranolol, clonidine or reserpine). After 6 months of treatment that controlled BP, dosages were reduced in two-thirds of the patients. In those patients receiving low dose HCTZ and randomized to dose reduction, antihypertensive drugs were completely discontinued. Although approximately half of these patients remained normotensive for the first 6 months, a significantly greater proportion had elevation of BP compared to the control group, which continued to receive treatment (p less than 0.0001). In the high dose HCTZ drug group, the proportion of patients remaining normotensive did not differ among those stepped down to low dose HCTZ and the fully treated control group. While not achieving significance the trend was similar with the step II regimens. Although some patients remained normotensive after discontinuation of step II drugs, a greater proportion returned to elevated BP than when step II dosage was unchanged. Therefore, while stopping therapy may be effective in some patients, a decreased dosage is significantly more effective as a method for maintaining an antihypertensive effect. Decreasing drug dosages offers the dual benefit of minimizing side effects and reducing drug costs.
Veterans Administration Medical Center, Washington, DC 20422.
Short-term predictors of maintenance of normotension after withdrawal of antihypertensive drugs in the second Australian National Blood Pressure Study (ANBP2).
Nelson MR, Reid CM, Krum H, Ryan P, Wing LM, McNeil JJ, Management Committee, Second Australian National Blood Pressure Study
Am J Hypertens. 2003;16(1):39.
BACKGROUND: Antihypertensive drug therapy is considered lifelong but in the family practice environment drug cessation may provide an opportunity to attempt nonpharmacologic strategies for blood pressure (BP) control with a clear outcome, maintaining drug-free status. The identification of simple predictors would assist the family physician to select who may or may not have their medication ceased.
METHODS: To monitor a drug cessation program in currently treated hypertensive patients in Australian family practice, 25,826 patients aged 65 to 84 years currently receiving antihypertensive medication, were offered drug withdrawal as part of the run-in phase of a large clinical trial. Outcomes investigated were the proportion of patients completing drug withdrawal and maintaining short-term BP control and factors that predicted these patients.
RESULTS: A total of 18,993 patients did not enter the withdrawal program; 6291 (92% of those who entered) completed drug withdrawal. In comparison to patients who did not complete drug withdrawal, they were younger and more likely male. A total of 1,228 (18% of those who entered) ceased medication and maintained adequate BP control for 0 to 76 weeks (median, 4 weeks). Cox regression analysis identified lower on therapy systolic and diastolic BP, younger age, type of agent, and monotherapy as predictors of successful drug withdrawal and maintenance of BP control.
CONCLUSIONS: Cessation of antihypertensive drug therapy is possible in a substantial proportion (18%) of patients attending family practice who are willing to do so and is most successful in those who are younger with BP controlled on monotherapy. Where this strategy is initiated, use of such predictors, effective behavioral change, and systematic follow-up is recommended.
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Australia. email@example.com