Background: High blood pressure is an important determinant of cardiovascular disease risk. Treated hypertensives do not attain a risk level equivalent to normotensives. This may be a consequence of suboptimal blood pressure control to which indiscriminate use of antihypertensive drugs may contribute. Indeed the recent ALLHAT1study suggests that thiazides should be given first to virtually all hypertensives. Whether this is correct or whether different antihypertensive therapies should be targeted towards different patients is a major unresolved issue, which we address in this study. The measurement of the ratio of aldosterone: renin is used to identify hypertensive subjects who may respond well to treatment with the aldosterone antagonist spironolactone. It is not known if subjects with a high ratio have aldosteronism or aldosterone-sensitive hypertension is debated but it is important to know whether spironolactone is superior to other diuretics such as bendroflumethiazide in this setting. Methods/design: The study is a double-blind, randomised, crossover, controlled trial that will randomise 120 hypertensive subjects to 12 weeks treatment with spironolactone 50 mg once daily and 12 weeks treatment with bendroflumethiazide 2.5 mg once daily. The 2 treatment periods are separated by a 2-week washout period. Randomisation is stratified by aldosterone: renin ratio to include equal numbers of subjects with high and low aldosterone: renin ratios. Primary objective- To test the hypothesis that the aldosterone: renin ratio predicts the antihypertensive response to spironolactone, specifically that the effect of spironolactone 50 mg is greater than that of bendroflumethiazide 2.5 mg in hypertensive subjects with high aldosterone: renin ratios. Secondary objectives - To determine whether bendroflumethiazide induces adverse metabolic abnormalities, especially in subjects with high aldosterone: renin ratios and if baseline renin measurement predicts the antihypertensive response to spironolactone and/or bendrofluazide. Discussion: The numerous deleterious effects of hypertension dictate the need for a systematic approach for its treatment. In spite of various therapies, resistant hypertension is widely prevalent. Among various factors, primary aldosteronism is an important cause of resistant hypertension and is now more commonly recognised. More significantly, hypertensives with primary aldosteronism are also exposed to various other deleterious effects of excess aldosterone. Hence treating hypertension with specific aldosterone antagonists may be a better approach in this group of patients. It may lead on to better blood pressures with fewer medications.
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