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Key Clinical Updates in Drug Therapy: Current Antihypertensive Agents

Most guidelines now recommend the use of home blood pressure monitors in the diagnosis of hypertension. The availability of blood pressure profiles generated from multiple home-gathered data points over continuous intervals allows more precise control of the overall hypertensive burden.

Visseren FLJ et al; ESC Scientific Document Group. Eur J Prev Cardiol. [PMID: 34558602]

Milani RV et al. Curr Opin Cardiol. [PMID: 33871402]

There are many classes of antihypertensive drugs of which six (ACE inhibitors, ARBs, renin inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, and beta-blockers) are suitable for initial therapy based on efficacy and tolerability. A number of considerations enter into the selection of the initial regimen for a given patient. These include the weight of evidence for beneficial effects on clinical outcomes, the safety and tolerability of the drug, its cost, demographic differences in response, concomitant medical conditions, and lifestyle issues. The specific classes of antihypertensive medications are discussed below, and guidelines for the choice of initial medications are offered.

A. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors are commonly used as the initial medication in mild to moderate hypertension (Table 11–6). Their primary mode of action is inhibition of the RAAS, but they also inhibit bradykinin degradation, stimulate the synthesis of vasodilating prostaglandins, and can reduce sympathetic nervous system activity. These latter actions may explain why they exhibit some effect even in patients with low plasma renin activity. ACE inhibitors appear to be more effective in younger White patients. They are relatively less effective in Black and older persons and in predominantly systolic hypertension. Although as single therapy they achieve adequate antihypertensive control in only about 40–50% of patients, the combination of an ACE inhibitor and a diuretic or calcium channel blocker is potent.

Table 11–6.Antihypertensive drugs: renin and ACE inhibitors and ARBs.

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