Live Longer With Hypertension Treatment

Chlorthalidone may help patients with hypertension live longer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drugs for hypertension may help you do more than reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. They may also help patients life longer.

Patients with high blood pressure who took antihypertensive drug chlorthalidone (Hydone Tablet, Hygroton, Thalitone) for more than four years were less likely to die and gained life expectancy 20 years after beginning treatment.

"Take blood pressure medication as prescribed by your doctor."

John B. Kostis, M.D., of the University of Medicine & Denistry of New Jersey Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, noted in the paper that hypertension drugs have been shown to decrease cardiovascular events, but long-term data on life expectancy gain was unavailable.

During the study, investigators obtained data on long-term mortality of patients in the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program trial. The randomized placebo-controlled study was initiated to assess the effect of chlorthalidone in reducing stroke risk in patients with isolated systolic hypertension, which occurs when only the top number in a blood pressure reading is elevated.

Patients were recruited between March 1985 and January 1988. Following a randomized part of the study that last four and a half years in which some patients took the drug and others took a placebo, all patients began hypertension treatment.

Of the 4,736 participants, half took chlorthalidone, while the rest took a placebo. The average age of patients was 72, and more than half were women. Patients were followed for about 22 years from study enrollment.

At the end of follow up, 59.9 percent in the active treatment group had died as compared to 60.5 percent in the placebo group.

Researchers found that life expectancy was longer for those that took the drug. More than two decades later, participants who took the medication had gained an average of 158 days free from cardiovascular death, about one day per month of treatment, and 105 days from dying of any cause. Patients that took the hypertension drug also were slightly more likely to survive free from a heart-related death.

Investigators said that the finding could help encourage patients to do a better job of regularly taking their blood pressure medications.

The clinical study will be published in the Dec. 21 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Review Date: 
December 16, 2011
Last Updated:
December 20, 2011