Chlorthalidone compared with hydrochlorothiazide in reducing cardiovascular events: systematic review and network meta-analyses

Hypertension. 2012 Jun;59(6):1110-7. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.191106. Epub 2012 Apr 23.


Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) is widely used for hypertension, and prescriptions for HCTZ outnumber those for chlorthalidone (CTDN) by >20-fold in 2 recent surveys. Some have recently expressed a preference for CTDN. However, head-to-head trials testing the effect of the 2 drugs on cardiovascular events (CVEs) are lacking. We conducted a systematic review of randomized trials in which 1 arm was based on either HCTZ or CTDN followed by 2 types of network meta-analyses, a drug-adjusted analysis and an office systolic blood pressure-adjusted analysis. Nine trials were identified: 3 based on HCTZ and 6 based on CTDN. In the drug-adjusted analysis (n = 50946), the percentage of risk reduction in congestive heart failure for CTDN versus HCTZ was 23 (95% CI, 2-39; P = 0.032); and in all CVEs was 21 (95% CI, 12-28; P<0.0001). In the office systolic blood pressure-adjusted analysis (n = 78350), the percentage of risk reduction in CVEs for CTDN versus HCTZ was 18 (95% CI, 3-30; P = 0.024). When the reduction in office systolic blood pressure was identical in the 2 arms, the risk for CVEs in HCTZ arms was 19% higher than in its nondiuretic comparator arms (P = 0.021). Relative to HCTZ, the number needed to treat with CTDN to prevent 1 CVE over 5 years was 27. In conclusion, CTDN is superior to HCTZ in preventing cardiovascular events. This cannot be attributed entirely to the lesser effect of HCTZ on office systolic blood pressure but may be attributed to the pleomorphic effects of alternative medications or to the short duration of action of HCTZ.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Chlorthalidone / adverse effects
  • Chlorthalidone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydrochlorothiazide / adverse effects
  • Hydrochlorothiazide / therapeutic use*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Chlorthalidone