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Increasing complexity: which drug class to choose for treatment of hypertension in the elderly?

Authors Kaiser EA, Lotze U, Schäfer HH

Received 5 November 2013

Accepted for publication 8 January 2014

Published 24 March 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 459—475

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S40154

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Edelgard Anna Kaiser,1 Ulrich Lotze,2 Hans Hendrik Schäfer1,3

1Roche Diagnostics International AG, Rotkreuz, Switzerland; 2Department of Internal Medicine, DRK-Manniske-Krankenhaus Bad Frankenhausen, Bad Frankenhausen, Germany; 3Institute of Anatomy II, University Hospital Jena, Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany

Abstract: Treatment of hypertension in the elderly is expected to become more complex in the coming decades. Based on the current landscape of clinical trials, guideline recommendations remain inconclusive. The present review discusses the latest evidence derived from studies available in 2013 and investigates optimal blood pressure (BP) and preferred treatment substances. Three common archetypes are discussed that hamper the treatment of hypertension in the very elderly. In addition, this paper presents the current recommendations of the NICE 2011, JNC7 2013-update, ESH/ESC 2013, CHEP 2013, JNC8 and ASH/ISH guidelines for elderly patients. Advantages of the six main substance classes, namely diuretics, beta-blockers (BBs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and direct renin inhibitors (DRIs) are discussed. Medical and economic implications of drug administration in the very elderly are presented. Avoidance of treatment-related adverse effects has become increasingly relevant. Current substance classes are equally effective, with similar effects on cardiovascular outcomes. Selection of substances should therefore also be based on collateral advantages of drugs that extend beyond BP reduction. The combination of ACEIs and diuretics appears to be favorable in managing systolic/diastolic hypertension. Diuretics are a preferred and cheap combination drug, and the combination with CCBs is recommended for patients with isolated systolic hypertension. ACEIs and CCBs are favorable for patients with dementia, while CCBs and ARBs imply substantial cost savings due to high adherence.

Keywords: drug, antihypertensive therapy, elderly, very elderly, guidelines, evidence

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