In the wake of the recent study that found diuretics to be the best drugs for treating high blood pressure (BP), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will convene a committee of experts to develop new national clinical guidelines for hypertension by May 2003. The NHLBI sponsored the study, the largest ever of hypertension, the results of which were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 18, 2002).
The study pitted chlorthalidone (a diuretic) against amlodipine (a calcium-channel blocker), lisinopril (an angio-tensin-converting inhibitor), and doxa-zosin (an alpha-blocker). In patients with readings = 140/90 mm Hg who were followed for an average of 5 years, all of the drugs were similarly effective in lowering BP, but the diuretic was more effective in preventing fatal and nonfatal heart attacks than the drugs in the three other classes. Diuretics are an older and less expensive therapy.