Background: Patients with hypertension and renal-artery stenosis are often treated with percutaneous transluminal renal angioplasty. However, the long-term effects of this procedure on blood pressure are not well understood.
Methods: We randomly assigned 106 patients with hypertension who had atherosclerotic renal-artery stenosis (defined as a decrease in luminal diameter of 50 percent or more) and a serum creatinine concentration of 2.3 mg per deciliter (200 micromol per liter) or less to undergo percutaneous transluminal renal angioplasty or to receive drug therapy. To be included, patients also had to have a diastolic blood pressure of 95 mm Hg or higher despite treatment with two antihypertensive drugs or an increase of at least 0.2 mg per deciliter (20 micromol per liter) in the serum creatinine concentration during treatment with an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor. Blood pressure, doses of antihypertensive drugs, and renal function were assessed at 3 and 12 months, and patency of the renal artery was assessed at 12 months.
Results: At base line, the mean (+/-SD) systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 179+/-25 and 104+/-10 mm Hg, respectively, in the angioplasty group and 180+/-23 and 103+/-8 mm Hg, respectively, in the drug-therapy group. At three months, the blood pressures were similar in the two groups (169+/-28 and 99+/-12 mm Hg, respectively, in the 56 patients in the angioplasty group and 176+/-31 and 101+/-14 mm Hg, respectively, in the 50 patients in the drug-therapy group; P=0.25 for the comparison of systolic pressure and P=0.36 for the comparison of diastolic pressure between the two groups); at the time, patients in the angioplasty group were taking 2.1+/-1.3 defined daily doses of medication and those in the drug-therapy group were taking 3.2+/-1.5 daily doses (P<0.001). In the drug-therapy group, 22 patients underwent balloon angioplasty after three months because of persistent hypertension despite treatment with three or more drugs or because of a deterioration in renal function. According to intention-to-treat analysis, at 12 months, there were no significant differences between the angioplasty and drug-therapy groups in systolic and diastolic blood pressures, daily drug doses, or renal function.
Conclusions: In the treatment of patients with hypertension and renal-artery stenosis, angioplasty has little advantage over antihypertensive-drug therapy.