Nicardipine is an investigational dihydropyridine calcium-channel blocker. In the present study, 21 patients with severe hypertension were treated with oral nicardipine, alone or in combination with beta-blockers and diuretics for 4-5 weeks, following initial control of their blood pressure with intravenous nicardipine. Each of the 21 patients had a satisfactory response to intravenous nicardipine which was administered as an infusion following initial blood pressure lowering. At 1 h prior to discontinuation of the intravenous treatment, oral nicardipine therapy was begun as a 40 mg dose.
Oral nicardipine, 40 mg t.i.d., was continued for the remainder of hospitalization and for a 4-5-week outpatient follow-up period. The dose of oral nicardipine was downtitrated and additional antihypertensive drugs, beta-adrenergic blocking agents and/or diuretics, were added to maintain blood pressure in an acceptable range.
Compared to baseline, mean supine systolic blood pressure was lowered significantly (p less than 0.001) by 57 mmHg at the end of intravenous maintenance and by 50 mmHg at the end of oral treatment. Likewise, significant (p less than 0.001) decreases in diastolic blood pressure of 43 and 32 mmHg, respectively, were observed for the same time periods. At the end of oral treatment, 6 patients remained on nicardipine monotherapy, 8 patients were on two-drug therapy and 7 patients required three-drug therapy.
Side-effects were mild except for a moderate headache reported in one patient during intravenous treatment. From these observations we conclude that oral nicardipine is a useful new agent for initial, single treatment of chronic severe hypertension, although a significant number of patients eventually need additional antihypertensive therapy.
JD Wallin, GS Bienvenu, E Cook, A Laddu, P Turlapaty, GG Clifton
Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112.