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Arch Intern Med. 2011 Mar 14;171(5):384-94. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.427. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Antihypertensive treatment and development of heart failure in hypertension: a Bayesian network meta-analysis of studies in patients with hypertension and high cardiovascular risk.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Second Faculty of Medicine, University of Rome La Sapienza, S. Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy.



It is still debated whether there are differences among the various antihypertensive strategies in heart failure prevention. We performed a network meta-analysis of recent trials in hypertension aimed at investigating this issue.


Randomized, controlled trials published from 1997 through 2009 in peer-reviewed journals indexed in the PubMed and EMBASE databases were selected. Selected trials included patients with hypertension or a high-risk population with a predominance of patients with hypertension.


A total of 223,313 patients were enrolled in the selected studies. Network meta-analysis showed that diuretics (odds ratio [OR], 0.59; 95% credibility interval [CrI], 0.47-0.73), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (OR, 0.71; 95% CrI, 0.59-0.85) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) (OR, 0.76; 95% CrI, 0.62-0.90) represented the most efficient classes of drugs to reduce the heart failure onset compared with placebo. On the one hand, a diuretic-based therapy represented the best treatment because it was significantly more efficient than that based on ACE inhibitors (OR, 0.83; 95% CrI, 0.69-0.99) and ARBs (OR, 0.78; 95% CrI, 0.63-0.97). On the other hand, diuretics (OR, 0.71; 95% CrI, 0.60-0.86), ARBs (OR, 0.91; 95% CrI, 0.78-1.07), and ACE inhibitors (OR, 0.86; 95% CrI, 0.75-1.00) were superior to calcium channel blockers, which were among the least effective first-line agents in heart failure prevention, together with β-blockers and α-blockers.


Diuretics represented the most effective class of drugs in preventing heart failure, followed by renin-angiotensin system inhibitors. Thus, our findings support the use of these agents as first-line antihypertensive strategy to prevent heart failure in patients with hypertension at risk to develop heart failure. Calcium channel blockers and β-blockers were found to be less effective in heart failure prevention.

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