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Drugs. 1998;56 Suppl 2:31-43.

[Atenolol/nifedipine combination: efficacy and tolerability of low dose synergistic bitherapy in the treatment of arterial hypertension].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Service d'Endocrinologie et de M├ędecine Interne, H├┤pital Avicenne, Bobigny, France.


During recent decades, undeniable progress has been made with regard to the management of arterial hypertension. Larger numbers of patients are aware they have hypertension, receive treatment and benefit from this therapy. Furthermore, significant reductions have been observed in morbidity and mortality resulting from cardiovascular diseases. The objectives of hypertension treatment have been formulated on the basis of results of extensive epidemiological studies. Only a few patients receiving monotherapy actually achieve and maintain acceptable blood pressure levels. The complex pathogenesis of essential hypertension, the implications of nervous and humoral counter-regulatory effects, the heterogeneous character of individual responses to any given class of antihypertensive treatment and the onset of adverse effects all account for these failures. The search for a simple, effective and well-tolerated treatment based on a low dose combination of 2 classes of antihypertensive agents is consequently legitimate. The fixed combination of atenolol 50 mg and sustained release nifedipine 20 mg enables patients to benefit from the antihypertensive synergy of a beta-blocker and a calcium antagonist (dihydropyridine). Several open-ended or double-blind, controlled studies have shown that this combination produces a more marked antihypertensive effect than the individual components used alone or other reference monotherapies. Furthermore, it has been shown that this effect persists throughout the entire 24-hour period; this has been confirmed by 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Short and medium term tolerability is significantly improved: the side effects commonly associated with the 2 drugs when used alone are reduced with the combination formulation since the 2 active substances have different and complementary mechanisms of action. In addition, long term studies have shown that therapeutic efficacy and tolerability remain stable and have even been seen to improve over a 12-month period. The fixed combination of atenolol-nifedipine has a role in strategies for the treatment of mild to moderate hypertension, particularly under the following conditions: when first-line monotherapy has failed to attain specific clearly defined objectives, including stabilised blood pressure levels together with acceptable tolerability. when patient compliance is jeopardised as a result of undesirable side effects. when the vascular burden is aggravated through lack of attention to individual risk factors in hypertensive patients. In more serious forms of hypertension, the atenolol-nifedipine combination can replace sequential monotherapies or other combination treatments that have failed to comply with the various criteria of therapeutic efficacy. Controlling arterial hypertension commonly requires polytherapy with 3 or even 4 different drugs in conjunction with particularly strict rules governing hygiene and diet. The addition of the fixed combination of atenolol-nifedipine simplifies the treatment of patients with arterial hypertension by limiting the daily doses and reducing laboratory monitoring.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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