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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2007 Jan;9(1 Suppl 1):19-24.

Low-dose aldosterone blockade as a new treatment paradigm for controlling resistant hypertension.

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  • 1Vascular Biology and Hypertension Program, University of Alabama Sleep/Wake Disorders Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.


Treatment of resistant hypertension requires confirmation of true resistance, diagnosis and treatment of secondary causes of hypertension, adoption of appropriate lifestyle modifications, and effective use of multidrug antihypertensive regimens. Excessive volume retention often underlies resistant hypertension, so diuretics are generally necessary to achieve blood pressure (BP) goals. Although treatment regimens consisting of 3 or more agents have not been systematically evaluated, the author has found a triple regimen consisting of a thiazide diuretic, a calcium channel blocker, and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) to be generally effective and well tolerated. Although hydrochlorothiazide is more widely used, chlorthalidone provides better BP reduction and should be preferentially used in patients with resistant hypertension, particularly if the patient remains uncontrolled on hydrochlorothiazide. Recent studies have demonstrated that low doses of aldosterone antagonists, when added to multidrug regimens that include a thiazide diuretic and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker, provide significant additional BP reduction, seemingly exceeding what would be expected with addition of alternative classes of agents. The degree of BP reduction induced by aldosterone blockade has been similar in patients with and without evidence of aldosterone excess. Aldosterone antagonists are generally safe and well tolerated. The most common adverse effect of low-dose spironolactone has been breast tenderness, occurring in about 10% of men. Hyperkalemia is uncommon, but can occur, necessitating biochemical monitoring. Risk of hyperkalemia is increased in patients with chronic kidney disease or diabetes, elderly patients, and patients already receiving an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker.

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