A Review of the Adverse Effects of Peripheral Alpha-1 Antagonists
Bryson, Christopher L.
Psaty, Bruce M.
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Background: Doxazosin and its role as an antihypertensive agent have come under recent scrutiny as a result of the early termination of that treatment arm in ALLHAT. It is unclear why the cardiovascular (CV) event rate in this randomized, controlled trial (RCT), especially heart failure, is higher in those treated with a doxazosin-based regimen than with a chlorthalidone based-regimen. There has been little work in the past to summarize information on peripheral alpha-1 antagonists that may be helpful in evaluating the results of this randomized controlled trial. Methods: Using Medline and the Cochrane databases, we performed a comprehensive review of the literature on the use of peripheral alpha-1 antagonists as antihypertensive agents, focusing on available information that could explain the excess cardiovascular events observed in the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT). Results: Minimal data were available concerning the effects of peripheral alpha-1 antagonists on CV endpoints. A multitude of short-term studies-ranging from small observational studies to short-term moderate-sized RCTs – focused on safety, efficacy, and tolerability, and some studies investigated the physiologic effects of these agents. These previously reported studies reveal associations with weight gain, fluid retention, and neurohormonal changes among various populations of those treated with peripheral alpha-1 antagonists. Conclusion: These findings suggest several possible mechanisms by which doxazosin may be inferior to low-dose diuretics as antihypertensive therapy for the prevention of heart failure.