Machine learning of big data in gaining insight into successful treatment of hypertension

Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2018 Apr 24;6(3):e00396. doi: 10.1002/prp2.396. eCollection 2018 Jun.


Despite effective medications, rates of uncontrolled hypertension remain high. Treatment protocols are largely based on randomized trials and meta-analyses of these studies. The objective of this study was to test the utility of machine learning of big data in gaining insight into the treatment of hypertension. We applied machine learning techniques such as decision trees and neural networks, to identify determinants that contribute to the success of hypertension drug treatment on a large set of patients. We also identified concomitant drugs not considered to have antihypertensive activity, which may contribute to lowering blood pressure (BP) control. Higher initial BP predicts lower success rates. Among the medication options and their combinations, treatment with beta blockers appears to be more commonly effective, which is not reflected in contemporary guidelines. Among numerous concomitant drugs taken by hypertensive patients, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and HMG CO-A reductase inhibitors (statins) significantly improved the success rate of hypertension. In conclusions, machine learning of big data is a novel method to identify effective antihypertensive therapy and for repurposing medications already on the market for new indications. Our results related to beta blockers, stemming from machine learning of a large and diverse set of big data, in contrast to the much narrower criteria for randomized clinic trials (RCTs), should be corroborated and affirmed by other methods, as they hold potential promise for an old class of drugs which may be presently underutilized. These previously unrecognized effects of PPIs and statins have been very recently identified as effective in lowering BP in preliminary clinical observations, lending credibility to our big data results.

Keywords: beta blockers; big data; hypertension; machine learning; protein pump inhibitors; statins.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Algorithms
  • Databases, Factual
  • Decision Trees
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Machine Learning
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors