Objective.— To assess antihypertensive efficacy of β-blockers and their effects
on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and all-cause morbidity compared
with diuretics in elderly patients with hypertension.
Data Source.— A MEDLINE search of English-language articles published between January
1966 and January 1998 using the terms hypertension (drug
therapy) and elderly or aged or geriatric, and cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases,
and morbidity or mortality.
References from identified articles were also reviewed.
Data Selection.— Randomized trials lasting at least 1 year, which used as first-line
agents diuretics and/or β-blockers, and reported morbidity and mortality
outcomes in elderly patients with hypertension.
Data Synthesis and Results.— Ten trials involving a total of 16164 elderly patients (≥60 years)
were included. Two thirds of the patients assigned to diuretics were well
controlled on monotherapy, whereas less than a third of the patients assigned
to β-blockers were well controlled on monotherapy. Diuretic therapy was
superior to β-blockade with regard to all end points and was effective
in preventing cerebrovascular events (odds ratio [OR], 0.61; 95% confidence
interval [CI], 0.51-0.72), fatal stroke (OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.49-0.90), coronary
heart disease (OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.64-0.85), cardiovascular mortality (OR,
0.75; 95% CI, 0.64-0.87), and all-cause mortality (OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.77-0.96).
In contrast, β-blocker therapy only reduced the odds for cerebrovascular
events (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57-0.98) but was ineffective in preventing coronary
heart disease, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality (ORs, 1.01,
0.98, and 1.05, respectively).
Conclusions.— In contrast to diuretics, which remain the standard first-line therapy, β-blockers,
until proven otherwise, should no longer be considered appropriate first-line
therapy of uncomplicated hypertension in the elderly hypertensive patient.