Objective: To review studies and drug therapy relating to the treatment of hypertension in perioperative patients.
Data sources: Articles were selected from a MEDLINE search (1966-August 1998), and several textbooks on hypertension and surgery were reviewed. In addition, bibliographies of all articles and textbook chapters were studied for articles not found in the computerized searches.
Study selection: Clinical studies involving hypertension in the perioperative setting were included. The initial search was limited to studies conducted in humans and published in English.
Data extraction: Information regarding drug therapy was reviewed and guidelines were constructed for managing surgical patients with acute blood pressure elevations.
Data synthesis: Although nitroprusside and nitroglycerin, with their short onset of action and duration of effect, are indicated for hypertensive emergencies, a variety of agents are available for hypertensive urgencies. An algorithm that can be used as a template for the development of intrainstitutional guidelines is provided.
Conclusions: Due to the scarcity of comparative trials, decisions involving agents for the treatment of perioperative hypertension must often be made based on combined efficacy, toxicity, cost, and convenience considerations.