Combining Smaller Doses of Blood Pressure Drugs Lowers Side Effects

Using lower doses of a combination of blood pressure medications is as effective and has far fewer side effects than taking a standard dose of a single hypertension drug, according to a new review.

Researchers, examining data from 42 prior trials that involved more than 20,000 people with high blood pressure, found that taking a quarter dose of 2 different hypertension drugs was as effective as taking a single pill at the standard dose. Also, the side effects experienced from this dual quarter-dose therapy were about the same as those taking a placebo, according to the meta-analysis published in the journal Hypertension.

Results also showed that taking a combination of quarter doses of 4 different medications was almost twice as effective as a standard dose of just one medication.

The drugs included in the review covered 5 of the main categories of blood pressure-lowering drugs: ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and thiazides. Side effects associated with them include dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and unexplained weight gain or loss.

Researchers cautioned that the evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend using a combination of lower doses of hypertension meds and that larger trials would need to be conducted before doing so.

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