Objective: Although alpha-blockers are effective in lowering blood pressure, they may increase heart rate, an unwanted effect that could negatively affect outcome. However, the alpha-blocker urapidil might not increase heart rate due to its additional effect on 5-HT1A receptors. Therefore, we compared the effects of urapidil on heart rate with those of another alpha-blocker, doxazosin.
Methods: We performed a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study in 12 healthy males who received single oral doses of 60 mg urapidil, 4 mg doxazosin and placebo. Four hours following drug intake, heart rate and blood pressure were measured at rest and during exercise.
Results: Both doxazosin and urapidil decreased blood pressure to the same extent. Compared to placebo, resting heart rate was significantly increased by doxazosin (+25%, P < 0.05) but not by urapidil (+12%, n.s.). Resting heart rate with doxazosin was significantly higher than with urapidil (P < 0.05). Similarly, the rate pressure product (RPP) at rest was increased by doxazosin (+17%, P < 0.05) but not by urapidil (+6%, n.s.).
Conclusions: We conclude that the increase in heart rate caused by urapidil is less pronounced than that with doxazosin, a property that might favour urapidil in the treatment of arterial hypertension. In addition, only doxazosin (but not urapidil) increased the RPP at rest, a finding that might be helpful to explain why this drug was never shown to improve outcome in the treatment of arterial hypertension.