Article: PDF OnlyThe case for beta-blockers as first-line antihypertensive therapyCruickshank, John M.Author Information Department of Cardiology, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK. Journal of Hypertension: Volume 10 - Issue - p S21-S28 Buy Abstract Reason for treatment In patients with asymptomatic high blood pressure, antihypertensive treatment is initiated for only one reason, to prevent the hypertensive sequelae of myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure. Morbidity, mortality and surrogate endpoints Only diuretics and β-blockers have been shown to benefit hypertensive patients in terms of the hard endpoints morbidity and mortality. β-Blockers and diuretics are cheaper than newer drugs and thus represent good value for money. It is not acceptable to use drug effects on plasma lipids or insulin resistance as measures of the effects on coronary heart disease, since dihydropyridine calcium antagonists improve these parameters while significantly increasing coronary heart disease events in the acute and chronic ischaemic situation. Patient profiling Diuretics. Diuretics appear particularly suited to elderly hypertensives, especially those with isolated systolic hypertension, but they may increase cardiac events in younger and middle-aged diabetic and non-diabetic hypertensives. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors are undoubtedly valuable in the presence of left ventricular dysfunction, and possibly in the diabetic in maintaining good renal function. β-Blockers. β-Blockers are particularly well suited to younger and middle-aged hypertensives at all blood pressure levels, especially white males; where ischaemia and/or stress is a factor, β-blockers can significantly reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction and strokes. β-Blockers benefit elderly hypertensives by preventing strokes and may prevent coronary heart disease if prescribed with a diuretic. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.