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Am J Hypertens. 2001 Jul;14(7 Pt 2):231S-236S.

Issues in hypertension: drug tolerability and special populations.

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Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Hypertension and Atherosclerosis Section, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Improvements in the death rate from coronary heart disease and in the control of hypertension have leveled off in recent years, reversing a trend toward steady improvement that began in 1972. Of the roughly 20% of Americans who suffer from hypertension, only 29% achieve adequate control (<140/90 mm Hg) with treatment and nearly half receive no treatment at all. Poor adherence to therapy doubtless plays a key role in this failure. As a major cause of poor adherence, tolerability becomes an extremely important element in any discussion of effective antihypertensive treatment. Despite their efficacy in treating hypertension, diuretics, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers have all been associated with numerous side effects, including increased serum lipid levels, insulin resistance, and edema. With the introduction of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, patients were able to achieve blood pressure goals with fewer side effects. These agents, however, cause an irritating cough in up to 19% of patients. A newer class of drugs, the angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), have similar effects to the ACE inhibitors, but their highly selective nature produces even fewer side effects. Eprosartan is a structurally unique ARB. Like the other ARB, this promising new agent has a side effect profile similar to placebo, and its response rate rivals or exceeds that of enalapril. Although it remains to be seen whether the ARB can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease, preliminary data from the Evaluation of Losartan in the Elderly (ELITE) trial appear to be promising.

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