Treating the individual hypertensive patient: considerations on dose, sequential monotherapy and drug combinations

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For the general practitioner to be able to prescribe optimal therapy to his individual hypertensive patients, he needs accurate information on the therapeutic agents he is going to administer and practical treatment strategies. The information on drugs and drug combinations has to be applicable to the treatment of individual patients and not just patient study groups. A basic requirement is knowledge of the dose-response relationship for each compound in order to choose the optimal therapeutic dose. Contrary to general assumption, this key information is difficult to obtain and often not available to the physician for many years after marketing of a drug. As a consequence, excessive doses are often used. Furthermore, the physician needs comparative data on the various antihypertensive drugs that are applicable to the treatment of individual patients. In order to minimize potential side effects due to unnecessary combinations of compounds, the strategy of sequential monotherapy is proposed, with the goal of treating as many patients as possible with monotherapy at optimal doses. More drug trials of a crossover design and more individualized analyses of the results are badly needed to provide the physician with information that he can use in his daily practice. In this time of continuous intensive development of new antihypertensive agents, much could be gained in enhanced efficacy and reduced incidence of side effects by taking a closer look at the drugs already available and using them more appropriately in individual patients.

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