Pharmacotherapy of Hypertension in Chronic Dialysis Patients

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2016 Nov 7;11(11):2062-2075. doi: 10.2215/CJN.00870116. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Among patients on dialysis, hypertension is highly prevalent and contributes to the high burden of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Strict volume control via sodium restriction and probing of dry weight are first-line approaches for the treatment of hypertension in this population; however, antihypertensive drug therapy is often needed to control BP. Few trials compare head-to-head the superiority of one antihypertensive drug class over another with respect to improving BP control or altering cardiovascular outcomes; accordingly, selection of the appropriate antihypertensive regimen should be individualized. To individualize therapy, consideration should be given to intra- and interdialytic pharmacokinetics, effect on cardiovascular reflexes, ability to treat comorbid illnesses, and adverse effect profile. β-Blockers followed by dihydropyridine calcium-channel blockers are our first- and second-line choices for antihypertensive drug use. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers seem to be reasonable third-line choices, because the evidence base to support their use in patients on dialysis is sparse. Add-on therapy with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists in specific subgroups of patients on dialysis (i.e., those with severe congestive heart failure) seems to be another promising option in anticipation of the ongoing trials evaluating their efficacy and safety. Adequately powered, multicenter, randomized trials evaluating hard cardiovascular end points are urgently warranted to elucidate the comparative effectiveness of antihypertensive drug classes in patients on dialysis. In this review, we provide an overview of the randomized evidence on pharmacotherapy of hypertension in patients on dialysis, and we conclude with suggestions for future research to address critical gaps in this important area.

Keywords: Adrenergic beta-Antagonists; Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists; Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors; Antihypertensive Agents; Humans; Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists; Sodium; blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; hypertension; pharmacotherapy; renal dialysis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Research Design


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists