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ALLHAT findings are ’color blind’ in showing diuretics work better for high blood pressure


Three University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston faculty members are co-authors of an article in the April 6 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. The article reports study results suggesting older, cheaper diuretics remain the drug of choice for both black and non-black patients in treating high blood pressure and reducing risk of heart disease.

The analysis by race of the "Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial" (ALLHAT), confirms earlier findings that diuretics rather than newer, more expensive drugs such as ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, or beta blockers should be preferred as a first therapy for most patients.

The multi-center ALLHAT study is conducted under a National Institutes of Health contract with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Barry R. Davis, M.D., Ph.D., professor of biostatistics in the UT School of Public Health is the Principal Investigator and a co-author of the JAMA article.

"There was question whether the diuretics’ success with hypertension applied by race because black patients have less success than non-black patients with the ACE inhibitors," said Davis, who also is director of the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials at the UT School of Public Health. "However the results showed diuretics were as good or better than the newer drugs regardless of race."

The study concludes that diuretics are similar to or superior to newer drugs in lowering blood pressure, in tolerability and in preventing the major complications from high blood pressure. Across both racial subgroups, there was substantially higher risk of heart failure--37 percent--among participants taking calcium channel blockers compared with those on diuretics. When compared to ACE inhibitors, diuretics were more effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, especially heart failure, for all participants and significantly more effective in reducing high blood pressure and preventing stroke in blacks.

"These findings confirm ALLHAT’s original conclusion that diuretics should be the preferred initial therapy for high blood pressure," Davis said.

Melanie Hillis | EurekAlert!
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