Choosing a First-Line Drug for Older Adults with Hypertension: An Evidence-Based Approach

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James M. Wright, MD, PhD, CRCP(C), Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics and Medicine, University of BC, Coordinating Editor, Cochrane Hypertension Review Group, Vancouver, BC.

Choosing the optimal first-line drug for patients with hypertension must address a hierarchy of treatment goals: reduction in mortality and morbidity, efficacy in lowering blood pressure, ensuring tolerability, and minimizing cost. This article examines the evidence for the different classes of first-line antihypertensive drugs in light of these four goals. The evidence indicates that first-line low-dose thiazides are better than or equivalent to other antihypertensive drug classes for each of the goals of therapy in both people with hypertension in general and in older adults ≥ 60 years of age.
Keywords: hypertension, thiazide, first-line, older adults, evidence-based.