Emerging Insights in the First-Step Use of Antihypertensive Combination Therapy


Keith Norris, MD, Clinical Research Center, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, 1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
E-mail: knorris@ucla.edu


The blood pressure (BP) goals set by hypertension management guidelines (<140/90 mm Hg in uncomplicated hypertension; <130/80 mm Hg in type 2 diabetes or kidney disease) are not being achieved in a high proportion of patients, partly because monotherapy is insufficient in many patients. In particular, patients with uncontrolled moderate or severe hypertension and/or associated cardiovascular risk factors remain at high risk for cardiovascular events and hypertensive emergency. In recognition of the urgency of treating moderate and severe hypertension, the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) advocates the initial use of 2-drug therapies in patients with systolic BP levels >20 mm Hg above goal or diastolic BP level >10 mm Hg above goal. Regimens should usually include a thiazide diuretic and, for patients with diabetes or kidney disease, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker. Recently, clinical trial data have shown that first-step antihypertensive treatment of moderate and severe hypertension with carefully chosen fixed-dose combinations provides a high rate of BP goal achievement, a simplified dosing regimen, and superior tolerability compared with monotherapy.