Diuretics in cardiovascular therapy: the new clinicopharmacological bases that matter

Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1999 Sep;13(5):371-98. doi: 10.1023/a:1007835821228.


Diuretics in current use include early distal tubular (i.e., thiazide-type), loop (i.e., furosemide-type), and potassium-and-hydrogen-retaining substances. Available oral formulations of diuretics differ in terms of their renal excretory potency in man, as formally assessed through the effect of a single dose on 24-hour natriuresis in healthy subjects. The 2.5 mg formulation of the loop diuretic torasemide does not increase mean 24-hour natriuresis, and it is therefore considered a very-low-dose formulation. Amiloride 5 mg and torasemide 5 mg and 10 mg, which increase mean 24-hour natriuresis by less than 40%, are considered low-dose or low-potency diuretic formulations of diuretic substances. Hydrochlorothiazide 25 and 50 mg, furosemide 40 and 80 mg, and torasemide 20 mg, which increase mean 24-hour natriuresis by more than 40%, are considered high-dose or high-potency formulations. A rebound in natriuresis follows the early-after-dosing increase in this variables caused by loop diuretics; hence many oral formulations of loop substances are less potent natriuretics than most oral formulations of thiazide-type diuretics. Hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg and furosemide 80 mg have similar natriuretic potencies. During once-daily administration of diuretic formulations of diuretics to subjects without edema and normal renal function, the increases in 24-hour natriuresis and diuresis that follow the first dose disappear or attenuate markedly. This is due to neuroendocrine reactions to diuretic-induced sodium loss and its attendant hemodynamic shifts. Some of these reactions, e.g. the increase in plasma aldosterone that takes place, account for an elevation in kaliuresis that occurs during once-daily treatment with a high-dose formulation of a thiazide-type diuretic. Common fixed-dose combinations of a thiazide-type or a loop diuretic and a potassium-and-hydrogen-retaining substance generally do not change kaliuresis, but they increase natriuresis strikingly. Thiazide-type and loop diuretics decrease and increase calciuresis respectively; none of these actions wanes during prolonged administration. Plasma renin activity and aldosterone do not rise in response to very-low-dose formulations of loop diuretics taken once daily. Glomerular filtration rate tends to fall in the course of once-daily administration of high-dose formulations of diuretics, but not during prolonged once-daily treatment with very-low-dose formulations of loop diuretics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Diuretics / administration & dosage
  • Diuretics / classification*
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Natriuresis / drug effects
  • Renin / blood


  • Diuretics
  • Aldosterone
  • Renin