Intermittent blood pressure control: Potential consequences for outcome

Can J Cardiol. 1999 May;15(Suppl C):13C-18C.


Although both blood pressure (BP) and left ventricular (LV) mass at initial evaluation predict future cardiovascular risk, the actual BP and LV mass achieved over years of treatment more clearly relate to cardiovascular event rates. Intermittent compliance or noncompliance is the major reason for uncontrolled hypertension and presumably persistent LV hypertrophy. In general, drugs with rapid onset and short duration of action are not desirable because this profile may lead to large variations in BP lowering effect during actual drug intake and rapid disappearance of the antihypertensive effect with missed doses. In addition, intermittent compliance per se introduces the potential for adverse events. For drugs requiring several dose-titrations (eg, alpha1-blockers), restarting at full doses may lead to excessive drug action and symptomatic hypotension. For other drugs (eg, short acting beta-blockers or clonidine-like drugs), sudden discontinuation with intermittent compliance may lead to rebound-enhanced sympathetic responsiveness after one to two days, resulting not only in side effects, but also in adverse events, particularly in patients with (silent) coronary artery disease. The rapid onset, short acting dihydropyridines cause intermittent BP control at each dosing, particularly at higher doses. This intermittent control of BP is even more apparent at dosing intervals that are long relative to the duration of action. Thus, sympathetic activation and potential for adverse events can be anticipated at each dosing unless these drugs are being taken frequently at relatively low doses. For diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin I receptor blockers, no adverse effects have been identified with intermittent compliance. Intermittent BP control is, in general, not an appropriate approach to the management of hypertension and introduces additional risks depending on the type of antihypertensive drug. In contrast, drugs with slow onset and long duration of action provide a more consistent effect during actual drug intake and a more persistent effect during short periods of noncompliance.