Open Access Research article

Antihypertensive drug treatment changes in the general population: the colaus study

Vanessa Christe1, Gérard Waeber2, Peter Vollenweider2 and Pedro Marques-vidal1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University Hospital, Bâtiment Biopôle 2, Route de la Corniche 10, 1010 Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Department of Medicine, Internal Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and Faculty of biology and medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland

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BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology 2014, 15:20  doi:10.1186/2050-6511-15-20

Published: 31 March 2014



Changes in antihypertensive drug treatment are paramount in the adequate management of patients with hypertension, still, there is little information regarding changes in antihypertensive drug treatment in Switzerland. Our aim was to assess those changes and associated factors in a population-based, prospective study.


Data from the population-based, CoLaus study, conducted among subjects initially aged 35–75 years and living in Lausanne, Switzerland. 772 hypertensive subjects (371 women) were followed for a median of 5.4 years. Data Subjects were defined as continuers (no change), switchers (one antihypertensive class replaced by another), combiners (one antihypertensive class added) and discontinuers (stopped treatment). The distribution and the factors associated with changes in antihypertensive drug treatment were assessed.


During the study period, the prescription of diuretics decreased and of ARBs increased: at baseline, diuretics were taken by 46.9% of patients; angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) by 44.7%, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) by 28.8%, beta-blockers (BB) by 28.0%, calcium channel blockers (CCB) by 18.9% and other antihypertensive drugs by 0.3%. At follow-up (approximately 5 years later), their corresponding percentages were 42.8%, 51.7%, 25.5%, 33.0% 20.7% and 1.0%. Among all participants, 54.4% (95% confidence interval: 50.8-58.0) were continuers, 26.9% (23.8-30.2) combiners, 12.7% (10.4-15.3) switchers and 6.0% (4.4-7.9) discontinuers. Combiners had higher systolic blood pressure values at baseline than the other groups (p < 0.05). Almost one third (30.6%) of switchers and 29.3% of combiners improved their blood pressure status at follow-up, versus 18.8% of continuers and 8.7% of discontinuers (p < 0.001). Conversely, almost one third (28.3%) of discontinuers became hypertensive (systolic ≥140 mm Hg or diastolic ≥90 mm Hg), vs. 22.1% of continuers, 16.3% of switchers and 11.5% of combiners (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed baseline uncontrolled hypertension, ARBs, drug regimen (monotherapy/polytherapy) and overweight/obesity to be associated with changes in antihypertensive therapy.


In Switzerland, ARBs have replaced diuretics as the most commonly prescribed antihypertensive drug. Uncontrolled hypertension, ARBs, drug regimen (monotherapy or polytherapy) and overweight/obesity are associated with changes in antihypertensive treatment.

Antihypertensive drug therapy; Prospective study; Switzerland; Switching; Persistence; Blood pressure; Combination; Discontinuation