Context: Hypertensive patients are often given a calcium antagonist to reduce cardiovascular disease risk, but the benefit compared with other drug classes is controversial.
Objective: To determine whether initial therapy with controlled-onset extended-release (COER) verapamil is equivalent to a physician's choice of atenolol or hydrochlorothiazide in preventing cardiovascular disease.
Design, setting, and participants: Double-blind, randomized clinical trial conducted at 661 centers in 15 countries. A total of 16 602 participants diagnosed as having hypertension and who had 1 or more additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease were enrolled between September 1996 and December 1998 and followed up until December 31, 2000. After a mean of 3 years of follow-up, the sponsor closed the study before unblinding the results.
Intervention: Initially, 8241 participants received 180 mg of COER verapamil and 8361 received either 50 mg of atenolol or 12.5 mg of hydrochlorothiazide. Other drugs (eg, diuretic, beta-blocker, or an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor) could be added in specified sequence if needed.
Main outcome measures: First occurrence of stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease-related death.
Results: Systolic and diastolic blood pressure were reduced by 13.6 mm Hg and 7.8 mm Hg for participants assigned to the COER verapamil group and by 13.5 and 7.1 mm Hg for partcipants assigned to the atenolol or hydrochlorothiazide group. There were 364 primary cardiovascular disease-related events that occurred in the COER verapamil group vs 365 in atenolol or hydrochlorothiazide group (hazard ratio [HR], 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88-1.18; P =.77). For fatal or nonfatal stroke, the HR was 1.15 (95% CI, 0.90-1.48); for fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction, 0.82 (95% CI, 0.65-1.03); and for cardiovascular disease-related death, 1.09 (95% CI, 0.87-1.37). The HR was 1.05 (95% CI, 0.95-1.16) for any prespecified cardiovascular disease-related event and 1.08 (95% CI, 0.93-1.26) for all-cause mortality. Nonstroke hemorrhage was more common with participants in the COER-verapamil group (n = 118) compared with the atenolol or hydrochlorothiazide group (n = 79) (HR, 1.54 [95% CI, 1.16-2.04]; P =.003). More cardiovascular disease-related events occurred between 6 AM and noon in both the COER verapamil (99/277) and atenolol or hydrochlorothiazide (88/274) groups; HR, 1.15 (95% CI, 0.86-1.53).
Conclusions: The CONVINCE trial did not demonstrate equivalence of a COER verapamil-based antihypertensive regimen compared with a regimen beginning with a diuretic or beta-blocker. When considered in the context of other trials of calcium antagonists, these data indicate that the effectiveness of calcium-channel therapy in reducing cardiovascular disease is similar but not better than diuretic or beta-blocker treatment.