Antihypertensive drug therapy withdrawal in a general population
Substance Withdrawal Syndrome
To determine the fraction of all hypertensives who can be successfully withdrawn from antihypertensive medication, a study was conducted of a patient group originally drawn from a screened population of union members. Of 157 patients, 88 (56.1%) met preestablished blood pressure criteria for drug interruption, and 66 (75%) actually had medication withdrawn. Of these 66 patients, 69.8% and 54.5% followed up for one and two years, respectively, remained normotensive. Patients requiring reintroduction of antihypertensive therapy were distinguished from those remaining drug free by increased systolic blood pressure (141.4 +/- 13.2 vs 131.6 +/- 8.6 mm Hg) after one month. Extrapolation of the finding that 28% of the study population remained normotensive one year after drug therapy withdrawal suggests the possibility that as many as 5 million Americans currently taking antihypertensive drugs could have therapy interrupted for at least one year and thus avoid both the hazards and costs of drug therapy.