Efficacy and safety of acarbose in the treatment of elderly patients with postprandial hypotension

Chin Med J (Engl). 2008 Oct 20;121(20):2054-9.


Background: Postprandial hypotension (PPH) occurs frequently in elderly people and may lead to syncope, falls, dizziness, weakness, angina pectoris, and stroke. Some studies suggest that the magnitude of the postprandial fall in blood pressure (BP) is influenced by the rate at which glucose enters the small intestine. We hypothesized that acarbose (alpha-glucosidase inhibitor), a hypoglycemic agent that decreases the rate of glucose absorption in the small intestine, would attenuate PPH in the elderly, and would be safe in the treatment.

Methods: Forty-three elderly in-patients with PPH were recruited. All of them were in relatively stable conditions. They had semi-liquid standard meals without and with acarbose for the two following days: screening day and intervention day. Blood pressure and heart rate (HR) were recorded at baseline and every 15 minutes for 120 minutes using a non-invasive ambulatory blood pressure monitoring system during the study, and ejection fraction (EF) and fractional shortening (FS) were measured by two dimensional echocardiography.

Results: Compared with the screening day, the falls in systolic, diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure (SBP, DBP, MAP) (all P < 0.05) were significantly attenuated after taking acarbose during breakfast, so were MAP (P < 0.05) during lunch, DBP (P < 0.05) and MAP (P < 0.05) during supper. The change of HR was not statistically significant after taking acarbose in three meals. EF and FS were positively correlated with the relief rate. The effective power was 63%, and the incidence of adverse drug reaction (ADR) was 9%.

Conclusion: Acarbose is effective and safe in the treatment of elderly patients with PPH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / adverse effects
  • Acarbose / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Hypotension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period / physiology*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Acarbose