Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation

: 2010  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 652--659

Patterns of Anti-Hypertensive therapy in diabetic patients with and without reduced renal function

Waleed M Sweileh1, Ansam F Sawalha2, Sa'ed H Zyoud2, Samah W Al-Jabi1, Eman J Tameem3,  
1 College of Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacy Graduate Program, Nablus, Palestine
2 Poison Control and Drug Information Center (PCDIC), An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
3 Ministry of Health, Palestinian National Authority, Jenin, Palestine

Correspondence Address:
Waleed M Sweileh
College of Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacology Graduate Program, An-Najah National University, Nablus


Renal function deterioration is a common complication in patients with diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Appropriate use of anti-hypertensive agents and tight control of Blood Pressure (BP) can minimize and delay such complications. This study was performed in order to investigate the utilization patterns of anti-hypertensive agents and to evaluate BP control among diabetic-hypertensive patients with and without reduced renal function. In a retrospective cohort study, all diabetic­hypertensive patients attending The Al-Watani Medical Governmental Center from August 01, 2006 until August 01, 2007 were enrolled in the study. Patients with congestive heart failure and/or end­stage renal disease were excluded from the study. The proportion of use of five different anti­hypertensive drug classes were compared for all patients receiving 1, 2, 3, or 4 drugs, and separately among patients with and without reduced renal function. Over 60% of patients were receiving angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI)/angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), followed by diuretics (40.8%), calcium channel blockers (25.1%) and (β-blockers (12.5%). The majority of patients (> 55%) were either on mono or no drug therapy. Patients on monotherapy were mostly receiving ACEI/ARB (60%). In patients with reduced renal function, use of diuretics, but not ACEI/ARB or CCB, was higher and 41.8% of the patients were on monotherapy compared to 46.6% in patients with normal renal function. The proportion of patients achieving good BP control was 20% with mono­therapy and 28% with combination therapy. Our study suggests that the pattern of anti-hypertensive therapy was generally consistent with inter-national guidelines. Areas of improvement include in­creasing use of ACEI/ARB and diuretics, decreasing the number of untreated patients, and increasing the proportion of patients with well controlled BP in this population.

How to cite this article:
Sweileh WM, Sawalha AF, Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Tameem EJ. Patterns of Anti-Hypertensive therapy in diabetic patients with and without reduced renal function.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2010;21:652-659

How to cite this URL:
Sweileh WM, Sawalha AF, Zyoud SH, Al-Jabi SW, Tameem EJ. Patterns of Anti-Hypertensive therapy in diabetic patients with and without reduced renal function. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Jan 18 ];21:652-659
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Full Text


It is estimated that 2.7% of Palestinians living in the West-Bank have hypertension (HTN) and 2.1% have diabetes mellitus (DM). [1] Although, no epidemiological data are available about Palestinians who have combined DM and HTN, the prevalence of HTN, in general, is few times greater in patients with DM than in matched non-diabetic individuals. [2],[3] The major adverse outcomes of DM are a result of vas­cular complications, both, at the microvascular (retinopathy, nephropathy or neuropathy) and macrovascular levels (coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular di­sease). [4] These vascular complications are aug­mented by the co-existence of HTN. [5] To mi­nimize and delay the vascular complications among diabetic-hypertensive patients, a tight control of Blood Pressure (BP) and glucose le­vels is required. [4],[6] Although studies have indi­cated that tight blood glucose control can re­duce microvascular end-points, [7],[8],[9] no experi­mental studies have yet shown a causal rela­tionship between improved blood glucose con­trol and reduction in serious cardiovascular outcomes. In contrast, the level of control of HTN is more effective than glycemic control in reducing risk for cardiovascular and micro­vascular events and that is why, management of HTN among patients with DM should be prioritized. [10]

There are a growing number of pharmacolo­gical treatment options for patients with HTN. However, the choice of anti-hypertensive drug class is influenced by many factors such as the presence of co-morbid conditions. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC) stated that an­giotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) is an important component of most regimens to control BP in diabetic patients. In those pa­tients, ACE-I may be used alone, but are much more effective when combined with thiazide­type diuretic or other anti-hypertensive drugs. [11] The JNC seventh report recommended that the BP in diabetics should be controlled to levels of 130/80 mmHg or lower. Rigorous control of BP is paramount for reducing the progression of diabetic nephropathy to end-stage renal di­sease (ESRD). In hypertensive patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), defined as a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) [11]

The primary objectives of this study were:

to evaluate the utilization of ACE-I/ARBs and other anti-hypertensive therapies re­commended by the JNC seventh report,to compare utilization of anti-hypertensive therapies for diabetic patients with, and without, reduced renal function,to investigate whether diabetic-hyperten­ sive patients with renal dysfunction receive more intensive anti-hypertensive therapy than those with normal renal function and, to assess BP control in this population.


We conducted this study at the Al-Watani Governmental Hospital and Medical Center, the largest non-surgical medical center in North Palestine with in and out-patient community medical services. Practitioners at this center include a combination of specialized and gene­ral physicians. We used the medical records of the patients to obtain diagnostic information, demographic information, laboratory test re­sults, vital signs, and prescription drug use. Data were collected retrospectively for the pe­riod August 1, 2006 to August 1, 2007. Records of all inpatients and outpatients from various clinics were screened. All aspects of the study protocol, including access to and use of the pa­tients' clinical information, were authorized by the medical ethics committee and the local health authorities. All patients with DM and HTN seen during the study period were ana­lyzed. Elevated or non-target BP was defined as greater than or equal to 130/80 mmHg, ac­cording to the JNC seventh report. [11] Reduced renal function or renal impairment was defined as creatinine clearance (Cr Cl) ≤ 60 mL/min. This cut off point was used by JNC seventh report to guide therapy for patients with CKD. Creatinine clearance was calculated using Cockcroft-Gault equation. To better study the use of ACE-I specifically for diabetes, patients During the study period, 340 diabetic-hyper­tensive patients were identified of whom, 255 met the inclusion criteria (110 males and 145 with any record of inpatient or outpatient diag­nosis of chronic heart failure (CHF) were ex­cluded. Furthermore, patients with ESRD (GFR PP= 0.049), and number of chronic diseases (PP= 0.16). Of the study patients, 228 (89.4%) were treated with anti-hypertensive drugs, whereas 27 (10.6%) were solely on non-pharmaco­logical interventions. Monotherapy was pres­cribed for 115 (45.09%), and combination for 113 patients (44.31%); of these, two-drug re­gimen was used in 93 (82.30%), three-drug re­gimen in 18 (15.92%), and four-drug regimen was used in two patients (1.76%) [Table 2]. Patients with controlled BP tended to use com­bination therapy more often than patients in the uncontrolled BP group (50% versus 42%), although this difference was not significant (P= 0.3). Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the overall utilization of anti­hypertensive drug classes among patients with con-trolled or uncontrolled BP. Approximately 28% of the patients on ≥ two anti-hypertensive drugs achieved control of BP while approxi­mately 20% of the patients on ≤ 1 anti-hyper­tensive drug achieved good control of BP.

The most commonly prescribed anti-hyper­tensive drug classes were ACE-I (61.5%) fol­lowed by diuretics (40.78%) and CCB (25.1%). The overall utilization of anti-hypertensive drug classes is shown in [Table 2]. Captopril (28.66%) and enalapril (66.24%) were the main types of ACE-I used. Few patients (5%) were prescribed ARB. The only two diuretics prescribed were furosemide (89.42%) and thia­zides (10.57%). Calcium channel blockers used were mainly diltiazem (54.68%) and amlodi­pine (31.25%). Monotherapy was the most co­mmon mode of therapy among the patients the patients (115, 45.09%). ACE-I was used as mo­notherapy in 69 (60%), diuretics in 27 (23.48%), CCB in 10 (8.7%) and BB in nine patients (7.8%). The two-drug combination regimen was prescribed in 93 patients with the most common combination being ACE-I with others, which were prescribed in 70 patients (75.26%).

The mean Cr Cl of the patients was 100.24 ± 73.1 mL/min; 79 patients had Cr Cl P= 0.014), had significantly lon­ger duration of DM (PP 1.41, P = 0.8).

The pattern of anti-hypertensive medications prescribed for Groups-I and -II were studied. Patients in Group-I were prescribed a total of 114 anti-hypertensive medications, an average of 1.44 ± 0.81 medication per patient. A total of nine patients (11.4%) were on non-pharma­cologic therapy, 33 (28.7%) on monotherapy and 37 (32.7%) were on combo therapy. ACE­I was the most commonly (22.8%) prescribed drug class as monotherapy in this group of pa­tients. ACE-I with diuretics (14/79) followed by CCB with diuretic (9/79) were the most commonly prescribed 2-drug combination thera­py in Group-I patients.

In Group-II, a total of 249 anti-hypertensive medications were prescribed, an average of 1.41 ± 0.8 per patient. A total of 18/176 (10.22%) patients were on non-pharmacological therapy, 82 (46.6%) on monotherapy and 76 patients (43.18%) were on combo therapy. ACE-I (51, 28.97%) were the most commonly prescribed monotherapy drug for patients in Group-II. ACE-I with diuretics (26, 14.77%) followed by ACE-I with CCB (13, 7.4%) were the most commonly utilized 2-drug combination therapy in Group-II patients.

No significant association was seen between prescribing CCB or ACE-I and patients in either Group. However, beta blockers (P= 0.011) were significantly more prescribed to patients in Group-II, while diuretics (P= 0.016) were significantly more prescribed to patients in Group-I.

There was no significant association between patients in either Group and the use of com­bination therapy.


We investigated the patterns of anti-hyperten­sive drug therapy in diabetic-hypertensive patients with and without renal impairment. Our study revealed that more than half (55%) of the total patients was on single or no anti­hypertensive therapy. This study also showed that one-third of the total patients had reduced renal function ( [12],[13] The results obtained in this study were different than those reported five years ago in Palestine. [14] In this study, we observed that there was an increase in the use of ACE-I and CCB and a decrease in the use of BB. The overall under-utilization of ACE-I could be attributed to the intolerance or adverse effects of ACE-I. In a study of patients with DM and HTN, the reported prevalence of cough asso­ciated with the use of ACE-I was 14.9%, with 4.7% of patients interrupting treatment as a result. [15] Similarly, the UKPDS Group noted that 4% of patients receiving captopril discon­tinued therapy due to cough. ARBs are consi­dered appropriate agents if patients cannot to­lerate an ACE-I. However, ARBs were rarely prescribed in this study. [16]

Diuretics ranked second when considering overall utilization of anti-hypertensive drugs and second when considering anti-hyperten­sive monotherapy. Combination of ACE-I with diuretic was the most commonly prescribed. This combination is pharmacologically favora­ble since it produces an additive anti-hyperten­sive effect and minimizes most adverse effects of either the ACE-I or the diuretics, especially hypokalemia. [17] Calcium channel blockers ranked third both in monotherapy and overall anti­hypertensive drug utilization. The non-dihydro­pyridine, diltiazem, was the most commonly prescribed CCB and verapamil was the least commonly prescribed. The dihydropyridine, ni­fedipine and amlodipine, were in between. The popularity of the non-DHP diltiazem may be due to its reported positive effects on diabetic proteinuria. [18] ACE-I plus CCB combination was not very common, although it could provide synergistic anti-hypertensive and reno-protec­tive activity, but their effects on proteinuria is comparable to ACE-I alone. [19] Non-DHP (e.g. diltiazem) plus ACE-I combination has been reported to lower insulin resistance and has an additive anti-proteinuric effect. [20]

In this study, patients with reduced renal func­tion were significantly more commonly pres­cribed diuretics than patients in Group-II. This is understandable given the fact that diabetic patients with reduced renal function are volume­expanded necessitating sodium restriction and diuretic treatment. Ideally, diabetic-hyperten­sive patients are to be treated with ACE-I plus diuretic. The importance of the diuretic agent was emphasized by the "Anti-hypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial", ALLHAT study. [21] In these pa­tients, loop diuretics are preferred. Patients with reduced renal function were prescribed combi­nation anti-hypertensive agents less frequently than patients with normal renal function. This is not in agreement with the JNC recommen­dation which emphasizes the role of combi­nation therapy in this particular category of pa­tients to delay progression to ESRD.

Similar studies conducted by a research group in Bahrain on patients with type-2 DM and HTN showed that the prescribing patterns of anti-hypertensive medications differ in many instances from the World Health Organization guidelines especially, regarding the choices and drug combinations of anti-hypertensive drugs; also, the appropriateness of anti-diabe­tic drug choice is questionable in relation to the anti-hypertensive drug used. [22]

A second study carried out in Bahrain by the same group mentioned above compared family physicians' and general practitioners' approaches to drug management of diabetic hyperten­sion. 12 In this study, the authors carried out a retrospective prescription-based study on 1266 diabetic-hypertensive patients. The authors con­cluded that there are substantial differences between family physicians and general practi­tioners in terms of preference of different drug classes for the management of diabetic-hyper­tension and that there was sub-optimal com­pliance among both family physicians and ge­neral practitioners to international recommend­dations.

We concluded from this study that there was a suboptimum use of combination therapy a­mong diabetic-hypertensive patients in general. Furthermore, diabetic-hypertensive patients with renal impairment were not given intensive anti-hypertensive therapy compared to patients with normal renal function. We recommend better drug education for health-care providers regarding appropriate and international guide­lines for this category of patients. This moni­toring can be achieved through the clinical pharmacist, whose responsibility is to deliver continuing medical education in the field of current pharmacotherapy.


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