Background: Midodrine hydrochloride is the only drug demonstrated in a placebo-controlled treatment trial to improve orthostatic hypotension (OH) but it significantly worsens supine hypertension. By enhancing ganglionic transmission, pyridostigmine bromide can potentially ameliorate OH without worsening supine hypertension.
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a single 60-mg dose of pyridostigmine bromide, alone or in combination with a subthreshold (2.5 mg) or suprathreshold (5 mg) dose of midodrine hydrochloride, compared with placebo.
Design: We report a double-blind, randomized, 4-way cross-over study of pyridostigmine in the treatment of neurogenic OH. A total of 58 patients with neurogenic OH were enrolled. After 1 day of baseline measurements, patients were given 4 treatments (3 active treatments [60 mg of pyridostigmine bromide; 60 mg of pyridostigmine bromide and 2.5 mg of midodrine hydrochloride; 60 mg of pyridostigmine bromide and 5 mg of midodrine hydrochloride] and a placebo) in random order on successive days. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate were measured, both supine and standing, immediately before treatment and hourly for 6 hours after the treatment was given.
Results: No significant differences were seen in the supine BP, either systolic (P = .36) or diastolic (P = .85). In contrast, the primary end point of the fall in standing diastolic BP was significantly reduced (P = .02) with treatment. Pairwise comparison showed significant reduction by pyridostigmine alone (BP fall of 27.6 mm Hg vs 34.0 mm Hg with placebo; P = .04) and pyridostigmine and 5 mg of midodrine hydrochloride (BP fall of 27.2 mm Hg vs 34.0 mm Hg with placebo; P = .002). Standing BP improvement significantly regressed with improvement in OH symptoms.
Conclusions: Pyridostigmine significantly improves standing BP in patients with OH without worsening supine hypertension. The greatest effect is on diastolic BP, suggesting that the improvement is due to increased total peripheral resistance.