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1.  The Association between Hypertension and Dementia in the Elderly 
Hypertension (HT) and dementia are common disorders in the elderly. HT in the elderly is associated with increased occurrence rates of dementia including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD). In connection to this, some studies have suggested that HT in old age correlates with the pathogenesis of dementia. Since HT is potentially reversible, a number of randomized trials have examined whether antihypertensive treatment may help in preventing dementia occurrence. We review five studies, all using subjects 60 years or older, which investigated different antihypertensive pharmacological treatments. Data from two trials (Syst-Eur, PROGRESS) open the way toward the prevention of dementia (AD or VaD) by antihypertensive treatments. In the Syst-Eur study, with the dihydropyridine calcium antagonists, a reduction in both types of dementia was demonstrated (risk reduction 55%). The PROGRESS study showed that the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), with or without diuretics, resulted in decrease incidence of stroke-related dementia (risk reduction 19%), but dementia without stroke was not reduced. In contrast, the SHEP trial, treatment with a chlorthalidone-based antihypertensive regimen, did not significantly reduced the incidence of dementia. The SCOPE study (candesartan or hydrochlorothiazide versus placebo) and the HYVET-COG study (indapamide or perindopril versus placebo) found no significant difference between the active treatment and placebo group on the incidence of dementia. We found conflicting results regarding treatment benefits in dementia prevention. Recent clinical trials and studies on animal models suggest that blockades of RAS system could have reduced cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Future trials primarily designed to investigate the effects of antihypertensive agents on impaired cognition are needed.
PMCID: PMC3216296  PMID: 22121477
2.  Modelling Cognitive Decline in the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial [HYVET] and Proposed Risk Tables for Population Use 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11775.
Although, on average, cognition declines with age, cognition in older adults is a dynamic process. Hypertension is associated with greater decline in cognition with age, but whether treatment of hypertension affects this is uncertain. Here, we modelled dynamics of cognition in relation to the treatment of hypertension, to see if treatment effects might better be discerned by a model that included baseline measures of cognition and consequent mortality
Methodology/Principal Findings
This is a secondary analysis of the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET), a double blind, placebo controlled trial of indapamide, with or without perindopril, in people aged 80+ years at enrollment. Cognitive states were defined in relation to errors on the Mini-Mental State Examination, with more errors signifying worse cognition. Change in cognitive state was evaluated using a dynamic model of cognitive transition. In the model, the probabilities of transitions between cognitive states is represented by a Poisson distribution, with the Poisson mean dependent on the baseline cognitive state.
The dynamic model of cognitive transition was good (R2 = 0.74) both for those on placebo and (0.86) for those on active treatment. The probability of maintaining cognitive function, based on baseline function, was slightly higher in the actively treated group (e.g., for those with the fewest baseline errors, the chance of staying in that state was 63% for those on treatment, compared with 60% for those on placebo). Outcomes at two and four years could be predicted based on the initial state and treatment.
A dynamic model of cognition that allows all outcomes (cognitive worsening, stability improvement or death) to be categorized simultaneously detected small but consistent differences between treatment and control groups (in favour of treatment) amongst very elderly people treated for hypertension. The model showed good fit, and suggests that most change in cognition in very elderly people is small, and depends on their baseline state and on treatment. Additional work is needed to understand whether this modelling approach is well suited to the valuation of small effects, especially in the face of mortality differences between treatment groups.
Trial Registration NCT0012281
PMCID: PMC2909901  PMID: 20668673
3.  No evidence that frailty modifies the positive impact of antihypertensive treatment in very elderly people: an investigation of the impact of frailty upon treatment effect in the HYpertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of antihypertensives in people with hypertension aged 80 and over 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:78.
Treatment for hypertension with antihypertensive medication has been shown to reduce stroke, cardiovascular events, and mortality in older adults, but there is concern that such treatment may not be appropriate in frailer older adults. To investigate whether there is an interaction between effect of treatment for hypertension and frailty in older adults, we calculated the frailty index (FI) for all available participants from the HYpertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of antihypertensives in people with hypertension aged 80 and over, and obtained frailty adjusted estimates of the effect of treatment with antihypertensive medication on risk of stroke, cardiovascular events, and mortality.
Participants in HYVET were randomised 1:1 to active treatment with indapamide sustained release 1.5 mg ± perindopril 2 to 4 mg or to matching placebo. Data relating to blood pressure, comorbidities, cognitive function, depression, and quality of life were collected at entry into the study and at subsequent follow-up visits. The FI was calculated at entry, based on 60 potential deficits. The distribution of FI was similar to that seen in population studies of adults aged 80 years and above (median FI, 0.17; IQR, 0.11–0.24). Cox regression was used to assess the impact of FI at entry to the study on subsequent risk of stroke, total mortality, and cardiovascular events. Models were stratified by region of recruitment and adjusted for sex and age at entry. Extending these models to include a term for a possible interaction between treatment for hypertension and FI provided a formula for the treatment effect as a function of FI. For all three models, the point estimates of the hazard ratios for the treatment effect decreased as FI increased, although to varying degrees and with varying certainty.
We found no evidence of an interaction between effect of treatment for hypertension and frailty as measured by the FI. Both the frailer and the fitter older adults with hypertension appeared to gain from treatment.
Further work to examine whether antihypertensive treatment modifies frailty as measured by the FI should be explored.
Trial registration NCT00122811 (July 2005)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0328-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4404571  PMID: 25880068
Ageing; Antihypertensives; Frailty; Hypertension
4.  The older patient with hypertension: care and cure 
Hypertension is one of the most important clinical conditions affecting older people. Its prevalence in this group of subjects is above 60% and continues to grow. Isolated systolic hypertension accounts for the majority of cases as systolic blood pressure increases with advancing age, while diastolic blood pressure remains unchanged or even decreases. Nowadays hypertension is a well established risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular disease among older people and its treatment is considered mandatory. The general recommended blood pressure goal in uncomplicated hypertension is less than 140/90 mmHg, even if this target in older people is based mainly on expert opinion. All patients should receive nonpharmacological treatment, in particular reduction in excess body weight when body mass index is greater than 26 kg/m2 and dietary salt restriction. Older patients with hypertension may also benefit from smoking cessation, physical activity and alcohol restriction. In relation to drug therapy, a low-dose thiazide diuretic could be a good first step. Other first-line drugs are long-acting calcium channel blockers, generally dihydropyridines, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers. The HYVET study showed a specific protective effect of indapamide with or without perindopril in people older than 80 years. Since monotherapy normalizes blood pressure in only 40–50% of cases, a combination of two or more drugs is often required. Moreover the addiction of a second drug may reduce the dose-related adverse effects of the first one. Finally, compliance with treatment should always be achieved by giving complete information to patients and simplifying the drug regimen as much as possible.
PMCID: PMC3539267  PMID: 23342238
elderly; hypertension; indapamide; perindopril; treatment
5.  Ambulatory blood pressure in hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy: efficacy of first-line combination perindopril/indapamide therapy 
Ambulatory blood pressure (BP) is more sensitive than office BP and is highly correlated with the left ventricular mass (LVM) of hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH).
In this prospectively designed ancillary study of the PICXEL trial, the effects of first-line combination perindopril/indapamide on ambulatory BP were compared with those of monotherapy with enalapril in 127 patients. Hypertensive patients with LVH received once daily either perindopril 2 mg/indapamide 0.625 mg (n = 65) or enalapril 10 mg (n = 62) for 52 weeks. Dose adjustments were allowed for uncontrolled BP. Twenty-four-hour ambulatory BP and echocardiographic parameters were measured at baseline, week 24, and week 52.
At study end, both treatments significantly improved ambulatory BP compared with baseline (p ≤ 0.01). Perindopril/indapamide treatment reduced 24-hour and daytime systolic BP (SBP) and pulse pressure (PP) significantly more than enalapril treatment (p < 0.01). No significant between-group differences were noted for diastolic BP (DBP) or for night-time measurements. Trough/peak ratios were higher with perindopril/indapamide than with enalapril (88.5 vs 65.8 for SBP and 86.7 vs 63.9 for DBP, respectively). The global smoothness index was higher with perindopril/indapamide than with enalapril (6.6 vs 5.2 for SBP and 5.6 vs 4.9 for DBP, respectively). With perindopril/indapamide treatment, LVM index was significantly reduced (−9.1 g/m2 from baseline; p vs baseline <0.001). More patients required dose increases with enalapril (87%) than with perindopril/indapamide (71%). No unusual safety elements were noted.
First-line perindopril/indapamide combination decreased ambulatory SBP and PP, and LVM more effectively than enalapril.
PMCID: PMC2291338  PMID: 17969366
left ventricular hypertrophy; ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; perindopril; indapamide; enalapril
6.  Which thiazide to choose as add-on therapy for hypertension? 
Combined therapy is required in the majority of patients with hypertension to achieve blood pressure (BP) targets. Although different antihypertensive drugs can be combined, not all combinations are equally effective and safe. In this context, the combination of a renin angiotensin system inhibitor with a diuretic, usually a thiazide, particularly hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) or thiazide-like diuretics, such as chlorthalidone or indapamide, is recommended. However, not all diuretics are equal. Although HCTZ, chlorthalidone, and indapamide as add-on therapy effectively reduce BP levels, the majority of studies have obtained greater BP reductions with chlorthalidone or indapamide than with HCTZ. Moreover, there are data showing benefits with chlorthalidone or indapamide beyond BP. Thus, chlorthalidone seems to have pleiotropic effects beyond BP reduction. Moreover, compared with placebo, chlorthalidone has small effects on fasting glucose and total cholesterol, and compared with HCTZ, chlorthalidone achieves significantly lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Similarly, indapamide has demonstrated no negative impact on glucose or lipid metabolism. More importantly, although head-to-head clinical trials comparing the effects of indapamide or chlorthalidone with HCTZ are not available, indirect comparisons and post hoc analyses suggest that the use of chlorthalidone or indapamide is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular events. Despite this, the most frequent diuretic used in clinical practice as add-on therapy for hypertension is HCTZ. The purpose of this review is to update the published data on the efficacy and safety of HCTZ, chlorthalidone, and indapamide as add-on therapy in patients with hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4142573  PMID: 25161365
blood pressure control; hydrochlorothiazide; thiazide-like diuretics; chlorthalidone; indapamide; combined therapy
7.  Dehydrogenation of the Indoline-Containing Drug, Indapamide, by CYP3A4: Correlation with in silico Predictions 
Indapamide, an indoline-containing diuretic drug, has recently been evaluated in a large Phase III clinical trial (ADVANCE) with a fixed-dose combination of an angiotension converting enzyme inhibitor, perindopril, and demonstrated to significantly reduce the risks of major vascular toxicities in type 2 diabetics. The original metabolic studies of indapamide reported that the indoline functional group was aromatized to indole through a dehydrogenation pathway by cytochrome P450s. However, the enzymatic efficiency of indapamide dehydrogenation was not elucidated. A consequence of indoline aromatization is that the product indoles might have dramatically different therapeutic potencies. Thus, studies that characterize dehydrogenation of the functional indoline of indapamide were needed. Here we identified several indapamide metabolic pathways in vitro with human liver microsomes and recombinant CYP3A4 that include the dehydrogenation of indapamide to its corresponding indole form, and also hydroxylation and epoxidation metabolites, as characterized by LC/MS. Indapamide dehydrogenation efficiency (Vmax/Km = 204 min−1•mM−1) by CYP3A4 was approximately 10-fold greater than that of indoline dehydrogenation. In silico molecular docking of indapamide into two CYP3A4 crystal structures, to evaluate the active site parameters that control dehydrogenation, produced conflicting results about the interactions of Arg 212 with indapamide in the active site. These conflicting theories were addressed by functional studies with a CYP3A4R212A mutant enzyme, which showed that Arg 212 does not appear to facilitate positioning of indapamide for dehydrogenation. However, the metabolites of indapamide were precisely consistent with in silico predictions of binding orientations, using three diverse computer methods to predict drug metabolism pathways.
PMCID: PMC2645476  PMID: 19074530
8.  Blood pressure normalization by fixed perindopril/indapamide combination in hypertensive patients with or without associate metabolic syndrome: results of the OPTIMAX 2 study 
The aim of the observational pharmaco-epidemiological study Optimax II was to seek whether the pre-existence of a metabolic syndrome (MS) defined by the NCEP-ATP III criteria impacts blood pressure (BP) control in hypertensive patients receiving a fixed perindopril/indapamide combination therapy. The primary objective of the study was to compare in patients with and without MS the rate of BP control defined as a systolic BP ≤140 mmHg and a diastolic BP ≤90 mmHg. Patients were prospectively included and the follow-up lasted 6 months. The study population consisted of 24,069 hypertensive patients (56% men; mean age 62 ± 11 years; 18% diabetics; mean BP at inclusion 162 ± 13/93 ± 9 mmHg). MS was found in 30.4% of the patients (n = 7322): 35.2% women and 20.1% men. Three therapeutic subgroups were constituted: Group A, previously untreated, received the combination therapy as initial treatment; Group B, previously treated but with unsatisfactory results and/or treatment intolerance, had its previous treatment switched to perindopril/indapamide; and Group C, previously treated, with good treatment tolerance but uncontrolled BP, received the study treatment in adjunction to the previous one. The normalization rate was 70.3% in group A, 68.4% in Group B, and 64.1% in Group C (p < 0.0001). The pre-existence of MS did not show any significant influence on these rates since BP lowering was −22.7 ± 13.7 (SBP) and −12.0 ± 10.0 mmHg (DBP) in patients without MS and −22.6 ± 13.3 (SBP) and −12.1 ± 9.7 (DBP) in those with MS. The results of this study show a significant effect of perindopril/indapamide treatment on systolic BP lowering, whatever the treatment status: initiation, switch, or adjunctive therapy, and independently from the presence or not of MS. This effect may be related to the specific vascular effect of the perindopril/indapamide combination, which has recently demonstrated in the ADVANCE trial its ability to reduce mortality, and cardiovascular and renal complications in diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC2496983  PMID: 18561520
hypertension; metabolic syndrome; combination therapy; antihypertensive efficacy
9.  Hypertension in the Elderly 
Background. The incidence of hypertension in the Western countries is continuously increasing in the elderly population and remains the leading cause of cardiovascular and morbidity. Methods. we analysed some significant clinical trials in order to present the relevant findings on those hypertensive population. Results. Several studies (SYST-EUR, HYVET, CONVINCE, VALUE, etc.) have demonstrated the benefits of treatment (nitrendipine, hydrochrotiazyde, perindopril, indapamide, verapamil, or valsartan) in aged hypertensive patients not only concerning blood pressure values but also the other important risk factors. Conclusion. Hypertension is the most prevalent cardiovascular disorder in the Western countries, and the relevance of receiving pharmacological treatment of hypertension in aged patients is crucial; in addition, the results suggest that combination therapy—nitrendipine plus enalapril—could have more benefits than those observed with the use of nitrendipine alone.
PMCID: PMC3157758  PMID: 21876789
10.  Effects of low-dose combination therapy with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and a diuretic on flow-mediated vasodilation in hypertensive patients: a 6-month, single-center study☆ 
Combination therapy with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and a diuretic has been shown to be highly effective in hypertension. Clinical trials have demonstrated that ACE inhibitors may improve endothelial cell dysfunction in hypertension. However, the effectiveness of the combination treatment in endothelial cell dysfunction is unknown.
This study investigated the effects of a new low-dose combination, perindopril 2 mg plus indapamide 0.625 mg, on brachial artery flow–mediated vasodilation (FMD) and left ventricular diastolic function in hypertension.
Patients aged 18 to 75 with newly diagnosed stage I or II hypertension were eligible. Endothelium-dependent brachial artery FMD and endothelium-independent vasodilation were assessed at baseline. Patients were treated with oral perindopril 2 mg plus indapamide 0.625-mg tablets once daily for 6 months. FMD measurements were then repeated. Percentage changes in FMD from baseline to 6 months, as well as left ventricular diastolic function parameters (isovolumic relaxation time [IVRT] and mitral diastolic E-wave deceleration time [EDT]), indicated the effectiveness of the intervention.
Twenty-nine Turkish patients were enrolled (17 women, 12 men; mean [SD] age, 54.5 [9.5] years [range, 38–75 years]). The mean (SD) baseline FMD was 7.00% (2.39%) (endothelial cell dysfunction) and increased significantly to 8.68% (2.78%) at 6 months (P = 0.02); FMD improved in 15 patients (51.7%). At baseline and 6 months of therapy, mean (SD) IVRT was 101.7 (12.4) ms and 95.5 (7.7) ms, respectively (P<0.001), and EDT was 234.7 (33.9) ms and 217.9 (25.6) ms, respectively (P<0.001).
In this small sample of hypertensive patients, a low-dose combination ACE inhibitor and diuretic significantly improved brachial artery FMD and left ventricular diastolic function. The improvement in FMD values was independent of the stage of hypertension. These findings suggest a relationship between improvement in endothelial cell function and diastolic function.
PMCID: PMC4053063  PMID: 24944419
flow-mediated vasodilation; hypertension; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors; diuretics
11.  Formulation and Quality Determination of Indapamide Matrix Tablet: A Thiazide Type Antihypertensive Drug 
Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin  2013;4(2):191-195.
Purpose: The present study was explored to develop a sustained release matrix tablet of Indapamide, a low-dose thiazide-type diuretic, using hydroxylpropyl methylcellulose (Methocel K15MCR) in various proportions as release controlling factor.
Methods: The tablets were formulated using direct compression method. The powers for tableting were evaluated for angle of response, loose bulk density, tapped bulk density, compressibility index, total porosity and drug content etc. The tablets were subjected to thickness, weight variation test, drug content, hardness, friability, and in vitro dissolution studies.
Results: The granules showed satisfactory flow properties, compressibility index, and drug content. All the formulated tablets complies pharmacopoeia specifications. The release kinetics of the drug decreased exponentially with the addition of polymer concentration. Indapamide release rate was observed to be the highest with the lowest concentration of polymer used. The release mechanism was explored with zero order, first order, Higuchi and Krosmeyer equations. Stability tests of the drug showed no notable changes in the rate of drug release, related substances and drug content.
Conclusion: In the context, it can be suggested that this formulation of sustained release Indapamide tablets can be marketed to treat patients with hypertension ensuring proper healthcare.
PMCID: PMC3915820  PMID: 24511484
Higuchi equation; Hypertension; Indapamide; Polymer; Sustained Release Tablet
12.  Blood pressure control and acceptability of Perindopril and its fixed dose combinations with Amlodipine or Indapamide, in younger patients with hypertension 
Indian Heart Journal  2014;66(6):635-639.
Recent hypertension guidelines recommend initiation of treatment with a fixed dose combination of two drugs for more effective and quicker blood pressure control. Few of these have been assessed for efficacy and acceptability. This study examines the short term blood pressure control and acceptability of perindopril, with or without its fixed dose combinations (FDC) with amlodipine and Indapamide in younger patients.
In a multicentre prospective observational study, patients with stage 1 hypertension were prescribed perindopril 4 mg per day. Those with stage 2 or 3 hypertension were prescribed a single tablet per day of 4 mg perindopril and 5 mg amlodipine (COVERSYL AM), or 4 mg perindopril and 1.25 mg indapamide (COVERSYL PLUS)for 45 days. The primary outcomes were the frequency of patients achieving blood pressure control and the adverse effect of pedal edema.
Of 426 patients, with a mean age of 45 years, distributed throughout India, and an average (SD) baseline systolic/diastolic blood pressure of 157.2 (13.5)/98.6 (7.4), 303 (71.1%) achieved blood pressure control. Mean (SD) SBP/DBP decreased from baseline by 26.9 (12.6), and DBP by 15.4 (7.2) mm Hg. Few patients discontinued treatment, and the frequency of cough that interfered with sleep and ankle edema was low.
In patients requiring combination antihypertensive treatment, the regimen of perindopril alone or its FDC with Indapamide or amlodipine reduces blood pressure effectively, resulting in high rates of blood pressure control over the short term, with a low frequency of side effects including cough and pedal edema.
PMCID: PMC4310951  PMID: 25634398
Hypertension; FDC; Indapamide; Amlodipine
13.  Role of transforming growth factor-β2 in, and apossible transforming growth factor-β2 gene polymorphism as a marker of, renal dysfunction in essential hypertension: A study in Turkish patients 
Many studies have shown that transforming growth factor(TGF)-β has a major role in renal scarring in many renal diseases and hypertension.
The primary aim of this study was to investigate both the relationship between hypertension and serum and urinary levels of TGF-β2 (a more sensitive isoform for glomeruli than TGF-β1), and the effects of combination therapy with perindopril + indapamide on microalbuminuria, which becomes an early indicator of hypertensive benign nephropathy, and serum and urinary TGF-β2 levels in patients with mild to moderate essential hypertension. In addition, we examined the possible relationship between TGF-β2 gene polymorphism and essential hypertension.
This study was conducted at the Department of Nephrology, Medical Faculty, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey. Patients aged ≥18 years with newly diagnosed mild to moderate essential hypertension (systolic/diastolic blood pressure [SBP/DBP] >120/>80 mm Hg) who had not previously received antihypertensive treatment were included in the study. Patients with stage I hypertension received perindopril 2 mg + indapamide 0.625 mg (tablet), and patients with stage lI hypertension received perindopril 4 mg + indapamide 1.125 mg (tablet). All study drugs were given OD (morning) PO with food for 6 months. Serum and urinary TGF-β2 and creatinine levels and serum and urinary albumin levels were measured before and after perindopril + indapamide administration. Amplified DNA fragments of the TGF-β2 primer region were screened using amplification refractory mutation system polymerase chain reaction analysis, and the number of ACA repeats was confirmed by DNA sequencing. Genetic studies were performed using a commercial TGF-β2 kit.
Forty patients were enrolled in the study, and 38 patients (27 women, 11 men; mean [SD] age, 46.3 [6.5] years) completed it. SBP and DBP were significantly decreased from baseline with perindopril/indapamide (both, P < 0.001). Microalbuminuria and urinary TGF-β2 levels also decreased significantly from baseline (P = 0.04 and P < 0.001, respectively), whereas the serum TGF-β2 level did not change significantly. Three patients, all of whom were found to have TGF-β2 gene mutations, had increased urinary TGF-β2 levels despite good blood pressure control.
The results of this study in patients with mild to moderate hypertension suggest that, despite good clinical control of blood pressure, the persistence of microalbuminuria and high urinary TGF-β2 levels might predict renal impairment. When treating these patients, genetic tendencies and possible polymorphisms on the TGF-β2 locus should be kept in mind.
PMCID: PMC3964570  PMID: 24672129
hypertension; perindopril; indapamide; microalbuminuria; TGF-β2; gene polymorphism
14.  Complementary mechanisms of action and rationale for the fixed combination of perindopril and indapamide in treating hypertension – update on clinical utility 
Although reducing blood pressure is the most important approach to reduce cardiovascular outcomes in the hypertensive population, the majority of patients fail to attain the targets. Most patients with hypertension need at least 2 antihypertensive agents to achieve blood pressure goals. The 2007 European hypertension guidelines state that combined therapy is needed when monotherapy does not attain blood pressure objectives and as a first-line treatment in high-risk patients. This point has been reinforced in the 2009 update of the European guidelines. The advantages of combination therapy are well documented with the potential for increased antihypertensive efficacy as a result of different mechanisms of action, and a lower incidence of adverse effects because of the lower doses used and the possible compensatory responses. Moreover, the use of fixed dose combinations are specially recommended as they facilitate treatment compliance. The inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system appears to be very beneficial in the treatment of patients with hypertension along the cardiovascular continuum and the combination of a renin-angiotensin system inhibitor and a diuretic is particularly recommended. Many clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits of the fixed combination perindopril/indapamide in the treatment of hypertension. The aim of this manuscript is to update the published data on the efficacy and safety of this fixed combination.
PMCID: PMC3172067  PMID: 21949617
fixed dose; combination therapy; angiotensin-converting enzyme; diuretic
15.  A Review of Perindopril in the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events 
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) have a well-established role in the prevention of cardiovascular events in hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction, and heart failure. More recently, ACEI have been shown to prevent cardiovascular events in individuals with increased cardiovascular risk, where hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction, or heart failure was not the primary indication for ACEI therapy.
To review studies of the effects of the ACEI perindopril on cardiovascular events.
The EUROPA (European Trial on Reduction of Cardiac Events with Perindopril in Patients with Stable Coronary Artery Disease Study), PROGRESS (Perindopril Protection Against Recurrent Stroke Study), and ASCOT-BPLA (Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial – Blood Pressure Lowering Arm) trials are reviewed.
Perindopril alone reduced cardiovascular events in subjects with stable coronary heart disease. Perindopril in combination with indapamide reduced cardiovascular events in subjects with cerebrovascular disease. Perindopril in combination with amlodipine reduced cardiovascular events in subjects with hypertension.
Perindopril reduced cardiovascular events. The reduction of cardiovascular events by perindopril was in large part associated with reduction of blood pressure, and greater reduction in cardiovascular events was associated with greater reduction of blood pressure. Perindopril may need to be combined with other antihypertensive agents to maximize reduction of cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC1993997  PMID: 17319455
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor; hypertension; coronary heart disease; stroke; myocardial infarction; heart failure
16.  Blood Pressure Control with a Single-Pill Combination of Indapamide Sustained-Release and Amlodipine in Patients with Hypertension: The EFFICIENT Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92955.
Despite antihypertensive treatment, most hypertensive patients still have high blood pressure (BP), notably high systolic blood pressure (SBP). The EFFICIENT study examines the efficacy and acceptability of a single-pill combination of sustained-release (SR) indapamide, a thiazide-like diuretic, and amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker (CCB), in the management of hypertension.
Patients who were previously uncontrolled on CCB monotherapy (BP≥140/90 mm Hg) or were previously untreated with grade 2 or 3 essential hypertension (BP≥160/100 mm Hg) received a single-pill combination tablet containing indapamide SR 1.5 mg and amlodipine 5 mg daily for 45 days, in this multicenter prospective phase 4 study. The primary outcome was mean change in BP from baseline; percentage of patients achieving BP control (BP<140/90 mm Hg) was a secondary endpoint. SBP reduction (ΔSBP) versus diastolic BP reduction (ΔDBP) was evaluated (ΔSBP/ΔDBP) from baseline to day 45. Safety and tolerability were also assessed.
Mean baseline BP of 196 patients (mean age 52.3 years) was 160.2/97.9 mm Hg. After 45 days, mean SBP decreased by 28.5 mm Hg (95% CI, 26.4 to 30.6), while diastolic BP decreased by 15.6 mm Hg (95% CI, 14.5 to 16.7). BP control (<140/90 mm Hg) was achieved in 85% patients. ΔSBP/ΔDBP was 1.82 in the overall population. Few patients (n = 3 [2%]) reported side effects, and most (n = 194 [99%]) adhered to treatment.
In patients who were previously uncontrolled on CCB monotherapy or untreated with grade 2 or 3 hypertension, single-pill combination indapamide SR/amlodipine reduced BP effectively—especially SBP— over 45 days, and was safe and well tolerated.
Trial Registration
Clinical Trial Registry – India CTRI/2010/091/000114
PMCID: PMC3979648  PMID: 24714044
17.  Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) is not the most useful nor versatile thiazide diuretic 
Current opinion in cardiology  2015;30(4):361-365.
Purpose of review
To determine usefulness and versatility of hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) relative to other thiazide diuretics in the treatment of hypertension.
Recent findings
Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) was found to be less potent in lowering BP than other thiazide diuretics, including chlorthalidone (CTD) and bendroflumethiazide. A recent meta-analysis also suggested HCTZ (12.5–25 mg daily) to be less potent than antihypertensive agents from several other classes, including angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and calcium antagonists. The risk of hyponatremia, hypokalemia, and hyperuricemia associated with HCTZ was lower than CTD while the risk of gouty arthritis was similar. Despite lower risks of metabolic side effects, meta-analysis of clinical trials showed that, for any given difference in achieved clinic systolic BP, HCTZ therapy was associated with 18% higher adverse cardiovascular events when compared to CTD.
Increasing evidence suggested inferiority of HCTZ in lowering BP and cardiovascular outcomes in hypertensive patients when compared to other drugs in the same class, particularly chlorthalidone and Indapamide. Thus, HCTZ is neither more useful nor versatile than other thiazide diuretics. CTD and indapamide should be preferred over HCTZ in most hypertensive patients when diuretics are required for treatment of hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4460599  PMID: 26049382
hypertension; thiazide diuretics; hydrochlorothiazide; chlorthalidone
18.  Leisure Physical Activity and the Risk of Fracture in Men 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e199.
Data from previous studies are inconsistent, and it is therefore uncertain whether, to what extent, and at what level leisure physical activity influences the risk of osteoporotic fractures in men.
Methods and Findings
A cohort of 2,205 men, 49–51 y of age, was enrolled in a longitudinal, population-based study. Leisure physical activity and other lifestyle habits were established at baseline and at ages 60, 70, 77, and 82 y. During 35 y of follow-up, 482 men had at least one fracture. Cox's proportional hazards regression was used to determine hazard ratios (HRs) of fracture associated with time-dependent physical activity habits and covariates. Men with a sedentary lifestyle (HR 2.56, 95% confidence interval 1.55–4.24) or men who walked or bicycled only for pleasure (HR 1.61, 95% confidence interval 1.10–2.36) had an increased adjusted risk of hip fracture compared with men who participated in regular sports activities for at least 3 h/wk. At the end of follow-up, 8.4% of the men with a high physical activity, 13.3% of the men with a medium physical activity, and 20.5% of the men with a low physical activity had suffered a hip fracture. According to the estimation of population-attributable risk, one third of all hip fractures could be prevented by participation in regular sports activities. High activity also conferred a reduced overall fracture risk.
Our data indicate that regular sports activities can reduce the risk of fractures in older men.
From a large cohort study with 35 years of follow-up, Michaelsson and colleagues conclude that regular sport activities can reduce the risk of fractures in older men.
Editors' Summary
One of the hazards of old age is that the bones become less dense—and therefore weaker—so when an elderly person falls, the result is often a broken bone. As many as half of all women and a quarter of men older than 50 y will break a bone because of this, and the consequences can be serious, particularly if the hip is broken. The thinning of bones, which is known as osteoporosis, does affect all people as they age, but the degree to which it occurs varies greatly between individuals. A priority area for medical research is finding ways in which osteoporosis can be reduced, with the aim of improving the lives of older people and reducing their risk of “osteoporotic fractures.” It is known that genetic and environmental factors can both play a part in how rapidly osteoporosis develops, but it is generally agreed that personal lifestyle factors are also important. Osteoporosis develops over many years; in most people bone density starts to decline after the age of about 30 y. Preventive action should therefore begin early.
Most research so far has focused on women, who are more at risk as the thinning of their bones increases after the menopause. (Indeed osteoporosis has sometimes been wrongly described as a “woman's disease.”) It is now accepted that women who are more physically active reduce the rate of decline in their bone density and, as a result, are less likely to break bones when they are elderly. There has been little research in men and the results have not been consistent.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order to provide better evidence as to whether men who do more physical activity have fewer osteoporotic fractures than those with lower activity levels, the researchers wanted to complete a study that was larger and was conducted over a longer period of time than previous research.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1970 and 1973, the researchers invited all those men living in Uppsala, Sweden, who were aged between 49 and 51 y to participate in a health survey. Most of them (2,205) agreed to do so. When the study began, they were asked questions about the amount of physical activity they took outside working hours. They were asked the same questions again when they were aged 60, 70, 77, and 82 y. A record was also kept of the number of fractures the men had suffered during the 35-y study period. (Although some of the men died before the end of the study, about half were still alive at the end.) On the basis of the answers to the questions on physical activity at the start of the study, the researchers divided the men into three categories: those whose lifestyle was considered to be “sedentary,” those whose leisure activities included some walking and cycling, and those who participated in sports for at least 3 h a week. These were referred to as the low, medium, and high activity groups. Over the 35-y period, 428 men had at least one fracture and 134 broke a hip, but there were big differences between the groups—20% of the low-activity men had fractures compared with 13% of those with medium activity and only 8% of those in the high-activity group. In particular, the chance of having a hip fracture was reduced by increased activity.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Taking exercise reduces the risk of an osteoporotic fracture. Participating in sports seems to be particularly effective; the researchers calculate that one-third of fractures could be prevented if men could be persuaded to take part in sports regularly. The researchers do note that the very best evidence always comes from studies where people are assigned at random to receive a particular “treatment” (in this case, it would be exercise) and are compared with others who did not receive the treatment. This is known as a “randomized controlled trial.” Such a trial would be difficult, if not impossible, to organize on this topic, and the approach adopted by the researchers, which is known as a “cohort study,” does provide very strong evidence. There are many other benefits from increased exercise (for example, in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes), and most governments are now promoting sports and other active leisure pursuits. This study adds further weight to support such policies.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
There are many free sources of information about osteoporosis on the Web, and many organizations exist to support people with the condition. For example, the National Osteoporosis Society (UK) has useful information about the condition
In the USA, there is the Nationtal Osteoporosis Foundation (USA)
The equivalent organization in Australia is Osteoporosis Australia
The UK National Health Service's NHS Direct Health Encyclopedia has an entry on osteoporosis
MedlinePlus is an excellent source of information
PMCID: PMC1892039  PMID: 17579509
19.  Balloon Kyphoplasty 
Executive Summary
To review the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Clinical Need
Vertebral compression fractures are one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures. They can lead to chronic pain and spinal deformity. They are caused when the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra) is too weak to support the loads of activities of daily living. Spinal deformity due to a collapsed vertebral body can substantially affect the quality of life of elderly people, who are especially at risk for osteoporotic fractures due to decreasing bone mass with age. A population-based study across 12 European centres recently found that VCFs have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Complications associated with VCFs are pulmonary dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of independence, and mental status change due to pain and the use of medications. Osteoporotic VCFs also are associated with a higher rate of death.
VCFs affect an estimated 25% of women over age 50 years and 40% of women over age 80 years. Only about 30% of these fractures are diagnosed in clinical practice. A Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study reported on the prevalence of vertebral deformity in Canada in people over 50 years of age. To define the limit of normality, they plotted a normal distribution, including mean and standard deviations (SDs) derived from a reference population without any deformity. They reported a prevalence rate of 23.5% in women and a rate of 21.5% in men, using 3 SDs from the mean as the limit of normality. When they used 4 SDs, the prevalence was 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively. They also found the prevalence of vertebral deformity increased with age. For people older than 80 years of age, the prevalence for women and men was 45% and 36%, respectively, using 3 SDs as the limit of normality.
About 85% of VCFs are due to primary osteoporosis. Secondary osteoporosis and neoplasms account for the remaining 15%. A VCF is operationally defined as a reduction in vertebral body height of at least 20% from the initial measurement. It is considered mild if the reduction in height is between 20% and 25%; moderate, if it is between 25% and 40%; and severs, if it is more than 40%. The most frequently fractured locations are the third-lower part of the thorax and the superior lumbar levels. The cervical vertebrae and the upper third of the thorax are rarely involved.
Traditionally, bed rest, medication, and bracing are used to treat painful VCFs. However, anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications are often poorly tolerated by the elderly and may harm the gastrointestinal tract. Bed rest and inactivity may accelerate bone loss, and bracing may restrict diaphragmatic movement. Furthermore, medical treatment does not treat the fracture in a way that ameliorates the pain and spinal deformity.
Over the past decade, the injection of bone cement through the skin into a fractured vertebral body has been used to treat VCFs. The goal of cement injection is to reduce pain by stabilizing the fracture. The secondary indication of these procedures is management of painful vertebral fractures caused by benign or malignant neoplasms (e.g., hemangioma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic cancer).
The Technology
Balloon kyphoplasty is a modified vertebroplasty technique. It is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to relieve pain, restore vertebral height, and correct kyphosis. During this procedure, an inflatable bone tamp is inserted into the collapsed vertebral body. Once inflated, the balloon elevates the end plates and thereby restores the height of the vertebral body. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with bone cement. Creating a space in the vertebral body enables the application of more viscous cement and at a much lower pressure than is needed for vertebroplasty. This may result in less cement leakage and fewer complications. Balloons typically are inserted bilaterally, into each fractured vertebral body. Kyphoplasty usually is done under general anesthesia in about 1.5 hours. Patients typically are observed for only a few hours after the surgery, but some may require an overnight hospital stay.
Health Canada has licensed KyphX Xpander Inflatable Bone Tamp (Kyphon Inc., Sunnyvale, CA), for kyphoplasty in patients with VCFs. KyphX is the only commercially available device for percutaneous kyphoplasty. The KyphX kit uses a series of bone filler device tubes. Each bone filler device must be loaded manually with cement. The cement is injected into the cavity by pressing an inner stylet.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp for marketing in July 1998. CE (Conformité European) marketing was obtained in February 2000 for the reduction of fracture and/or creation of a void in cancellous bone.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of painful VCFs.
INAHTA, Cochrane CCTR (formerly Cochrane Controlled Trials Register), and DSR were searched for health technology assessment reports. In addition, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations were searched from January 1, 2000 to September 21, 2004. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies.
The positive end points selected for this assessment were as follows:
Reduction in pain scores
Reduction in vertebral height loss
Reduction in kyphotic (Cobb) angle
Improvement in quality of life scores
The search did not yield any health technology assessments on balloon kyphoplasty. The search yielded 152 citations, including those for review articles. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on balloon kyphoplasty were identified. All of the published studies were either prospective cohort studies or retrospective studies with no controls. Eleven studies (all case series) met the inclusion criteria. There was also a comparative study published in German that had been translated into English.
Summary of Findings
The results of the 1 comparative study (level 3a evidence) that was included in this review showed that, compared with conservative medical care, balloon kyphoplasty significantly improved patient outcomes.
Patients who had balloon kyphoplasty reported a significant reduction in pain that was maintained throughout follow-up (6 months), whereas pain scores did not change in the control group. Patients in the balloon kyphoplasty group did not need pain medication after 3 days. In the control group, about one-half of the patients needed more pain medication in the first 4 weeks after the procedure. After 6 weeks, 82% of the patients in the control group were still taking pain medication regularly.
Adjacent fractures were more frequent in the control group than in the balloon kyphoplasty group.
The case series reported on several important clinical outcomes.
Pain: Four studies on osteoporosis patients and 1 study on patients with multiple myeloma/primary cancers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to measure pain before and after balloon kyphoplasty. All of these studies reported that patients had significantly less pain after the procedure. This was maintained during follow-up. Two other studies on patients with osteoporosis also used the VAS to measure pain and found a significant improvement in pain scores; however, they did not provide follow-up data.
Vertebral body height: All 5 studies that assessed vertebral body height in patients with osteoporosis reported a significant improvement in vertebral body height after balloon kyphoplasty. One study had 1-year follow-up data for 26 patients. Vertebral body height was significantly better at 6 months and 1 year for both the anterior and midline measurements.
Two studies reported that vertebral body height was restored significantly after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. In another study, the researchers reported complete height restoration in 9% of patients, a mean 56% height restoration in 60% of patients, and no appreciable height restoration in 31% of the patients who received balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphosis correction: Four studies that assessed Cobb angle before and after balloon kyphoplasty in patients with osteoporosis found a significant reduction in degree of kyphosis after the procedure. In these studies, the differences between preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles were 3.4°, 7°, 8.8°, and 9.9°.
Only 1 study investigated kyphosis correction in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. The authors reported a significant improvement (5.2°) in local kyphosis.
Quality of life: Four studies used the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Questionnaire to measure the quality of life in patients with osteoporosis after they had balloon kyphoplasty. A significant improvement in most of the domains of the SF-36 (bodily pain, social functioning, vitality, physical functioning, mental health, and role functioning) was observed in 2 studies. One study found that general health declined, although not significantly, and another found that role emotional declined.
Both studies that used the Oswestry Disability Index found that patients had a better quality of life after balloon kyphoplasty. In one study, this improvement was statistically significant. In another study, researchers found that quality of life after kyphoplasty improved significantly, as measured with the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Yet another study used a quality of life questionnaire and found that 62% of the patients that had balloon kyphoplasty had returned to normal activities, whereas 2 patients had reduced mobility.
To measure quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, one group of researchers used the SF-36 and found significantly better scores on bodily pain, physical functioning, vitality, and social functioning after kyphoplasty. However, the scores for general health, mental health, role physical, and role emotional had not improved. A study that used the Oswestry Disability Index reported that patients’ scores were better postoperatively and at 3 months follow-up.
These were the main findings on complications in patients with osteoporosis:
The bone cement leaked in 37 (6%) of 620 treated fractures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
There were no reports of pulmonary embolism due to cement leakage.
There were 6 cases of cardiovascular events in 362 patients:
3 (0.8%) patients had myocardial infarction.
3 (0.8%) patients had cardiac arrhythmias.
There was 1 (0.27%) case of pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis.
There were 20 (8.4%) cases of new fractures in 238 patients.
For patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, these were the main findings:
The bone cement leaked in 12 (9.6%) of 125 procedures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
Economic Analysis
Balloon kyphoplasty requires anesthesia. Standard vertebroplasty requires sedation and an analgesic. Based on these considerations, the professional fees (Cdn) for each procedure is shown in Table 1.
Professional Fees for Standard Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty
Balloon kyphoplasty has a sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (the device cost per case) that standard vertebroplasty does not have. Therefore, the up-front cost (i.e., physician’s fees and device costs) is $187 for standard vertebroplasty and $3,812 for balloon kyphoplasty. (All costs are in Canadian currency.)
There are also “downstream costs” of the procedures, based on the different adverse outcomes associated with each. This includes the risk of developing new fractures (21% for vertebroplasty vs. 8.4% for balloon kyphoplasty), neurological complications (3.9% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), pulmonary embolism (0.1% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), and cement leakage (26.5% for vertebroplasty vs. 6.0% for balloon kyphoplasty). Accounting for these risks, and the base costs to treat each of these complications, the expected downstream costs are estimated at less than $500 per case. Therefore, the expected total direct medical cost per patient is about $700 for standard vertebroplasty and $4,300 for balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphon, the manufacturer of the inflatable bone tamps has stated that the predicted Canadian incidence of osteoporosis in 2005 is about 29,000. The predicted incidence of cancer-related vertebral fractures in 2005 is 6,731. Based on Ontario having about 38% of the Canadian population, the incidence in the province is likely to be about 11,000 for osteoporosis and 2,500 for cancer-related vertebral fractures. This means there could be as many as 13,500 procedures per year in Ontario; however, this is highly unlikely because most of the cancer-related fractures likely would be treated with medication. Given a $3,600 incremental direct medical cost associated with balloon kyphoplasty, the budget impact of adopting this technology could be as high as $48.6 million per year; however, based on data from the Provider Services Branch, about 120 standard vertebroplasties are done in Ontario annually. Given these current utilization patterns, the budget impact is likely to be in the range of $430,000 per year. This is because of the sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (per case) for balloon kyphoplasty that standard vertebroplasty does not have.
Policy Considerations
Other treatments for osteoporotic VCFs are medical management and open surgery. In cases without neurological involvement, the medical treatment of osteoporotic VCFs comprises bed rest, orthotic management, and pain medication. However, these treatments are not free of side effects. Bed rest over time can result in more bone and muscle loss, and can speed the deterioration of the underlying condition. Medication can lead to altered mood or mental status. Surgery in these patients has been limited because of its inherent risks and invasiveness, and the poor quality of osteoporotic bones. However, it may be indicated in patients with neurological deficits.
Neither of these vertebral augmentation procedures eliminates the need for aggressive treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic VCFs are often under-diagnosed and under-treated. A survey of physicians in Ontario (1) who treated elderly patients living in long-term care homes found that although these physicians were aware of the rates of osteoporosis in these patients, 45% did not routinely assess them for osteoporosis, and 26% did not routinely treat them for osteoporosis.
Management of the underlying condition that weakens the vertebral bodies should be part of the treatment plan. All patients with osteoporosis should be in a medical therapy program to treat the underlying condition, and the referring health care provider should monitor the clinical progress of the patient.
The main complication associated with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty is cement leakage (extravertebral or vascular). This may result in more patient morbidity, longer hospitalizations, the need for open surgery, and the use of pain medications, all of which have related costs. Extravertebral cement leakage can cause neurological complications, like spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, and radiculopathy. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the cement and release the nerve. The rate of cement leakage is much lower after balloon kyphoplasty than after vertebroplasty. Furthermore, the neurological complications seen with vertebroplasty have not seen in the studies of balloon kyphoplasty. Rarely, cement leakage into the venous system will cause a pulmonary embolism. Finally, compared with vertebroplasty, the rate of new fractures is lower after balloon kyphoplasty.
Diffusion – International, National, Provincial
In Canada, balloon kyphoplasty has not yet been funded in any of the provinces. The first balloon kyphoplasty performed in Canada was in July 2004 in Ontario.
In the United States, the technology is considered by some states as medically reasonable and necessary for the treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures.
There is level 4 evidence that balloon kyphoplasty to treat pain associated with VCFs due to osteoporosis is as effective as vertebroplasty at relieving pain. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that it restores the height of the affected vertebra. It also results in lower fracture rates in other vertebrae compared with vertebroplasty, and in fewer neurological complications due to cement leakage compared with vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a reasonable alternative to vertebroplasty, although it must be reiterated that this conclusion is based on evidence from level 4 studies.
Balloon kyphoplasty should be restricted to facilities that have sufficient volumes to develop and maintain the expertise required to maximize good quality outcomes. Therefore, consideration should be given to limiting the number of facilities in the province that can do balloon kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC3387743  PMID: 23074451
20.  School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000195.
In a randomized trial of elementary schools in Toronto, Andrew Howard and colleagues show that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with wood fiber surfaces.
The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children, and can result in emergency room treatment and hospital admissions. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. Secondary objectives were to determine if there were differences in overall playground injury rates or in head injury rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing compared to school playgrounds with granite sand surfacing.
Methods and Findings
The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. The risk of arm fracture from playground falls onto granitic sand versus onto engineered wood fibre surfaces was compared, with an outcome measure of estimated arm fracture rate per 100,000 student-months. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list to receive either a granitic sand or an engineered wood fibre playground surface (Fibar), and were not blinded. Schools were visited to ascertain details of the playground and surface actually installed and to observe the exposure to play and to periodically monitor the depth of the surfacing material. Injury data, including details of circumstance and diagnosis, were collected at each school by a prospective surveillance system with confirmation of injury details through a validated telephone interview with parents and also through collection (with consent) of medical reports regarding treated injuries. All schools were recruited together at the beginning of the trial, which is now closed after 2.5 years of injury data collection. Compliant schools included 12 schools randomized to Fibar that installed Fibar and seven schools randomized to sand that installed sand. Noncompliant schools were added to the analysis to complete a cohort type analysis by treatment received (two schools that were randomized to Fibar but installed sand and seven schools that were randomized to sand but installed Fibar). Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–6.9) per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 (95% CI 3.7–21.4) for falls onto Fibar surfaces (p≤0.04905). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 (95% CI 0.26–15.9) per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 (95% CI 5.1–30.1) for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.
Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02647424
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with a place to let steam off, play creatively, socialize, and learn new skills. And, in a world where childhood obesity is a burgeoning problem, playgrounds provide a place where children can be encouraged to exercise. But playgrounds are not without hazards. Even in well-maintained and well-run facilities, children can hurt themselves by falling off climbing frames, monkey bars, and other equipment or by falling from standing height during playground games such as tag. In the US alone, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in playgrounds every year and about 6,400 children are admitted to hospitals because of playground injuries, most of which are bone fractures (broken bones). In fact, playground injuries in the US are more severe and have a higher hospital admission rate than any other sort of child injury except those involving vehicles.
Why Was This Study Done?
Children who fall off playground equipment are nearly four times as likely to break a bone (often in an arm) as children who fall from standing height. To reduce the number of fractures that occur in playgrounds, some governments have limited the height of playground equipment. Some have also set standards for the type of surfaces installed in playgrounds and for the depth of sand or engineered wood fiber in loose fill surfaces. These standards are based on laboratory tests in which headforms (artificial heads) are dropped onto surfaces. However, these tests provide no information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent broken arms and other specific injuries in the real world. In this cluster randomized trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive different interventions), the researchers compare the rates of arm fractures in elementary (primary) school playgrounds in Toronto (Canada) that have wood fiber surfacing with the rates in playgrounds that have granite sand surfacing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 37 elementary schools that had qualified for school board funding for replacement playground equipment to receive either wood fiber (19 schools) or granite sand surfacing (18 schools) in their playgrounds. 19 of the schools complied with their randomization (12 installed fiber and seven installed sand); two schools installed sand although they were randomized to install fiber and seven schools installed fiber instead of sand. The researchers evaluated the playgrounds and their surfaces several times during the 2.5-year study and collected data on how playground injuries happened and types of injuries from the schools, parents, and medical reports. Among the schools that complied with randomization, falls from height into sand resulted in 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months whereas falls into fiber resulted in 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months. Arm fracture rates and other injury rates were also higher for falls from height into fiber than into sand when all the schools that had installed new surfaces were considered. However, the rates of arm fracture and other injuries that did not involve a fall from height did not vary between surfaces.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of arm fractures that occurred during the trial—only 20 children who fell into fiber and two who fell into sand broke an arm. The accuracy of the findings may also be limited by the failure of many schools to comply with randomization although the researchers found no obvious differences between the schools that did and did not comply with randomization that might have affected the trial's outcome. However, even with these limitations, the findings of this real-world study indicate that granitic sand surfaces substantially reduce the risk of arm fractures and other injuries caused by falls from playground equipment when compared with wood fiber surfaces. Thus, because falls from playground equipment are more likely to cause a fracture than falls from standing height, if playground surfacing standards are adjusted to reflect the findings of this study (that is, if sand surfaces are recommended in preference to wood fiber surfaces), many arm fractures in children should be prevented.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at ttp://
Safe Kids Canada provides information about playground safety and other aspects of childhood safety (in English and French)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization for child health, provides information for parents on playground safety
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the safety of indoor and outdoor play areas
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides fact sheets on playground injuries
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information on playground safety, including resources designed for children such as The Further Adventures of Kidd Safety and Little Big Kids, a booklet on play safety written by children for children
PMCID: PMC2784292  PMID: 20016688
21.  Blood pressure normalization in a large population of hypertensive patients treated with perindopril/indapamide combination: results of the OPTIMAX trial 
To determine if the fixed-dose perindopril/indapamide combination (Per/Ind) normalizes blood pressure (BP) in the same fraction of hypertensive patients when treated in everyday practice or in controlled trials.
In this prospective trial, 17 938 hypertensive patients were treated with Per 2 mg/Ind 0.625 mg for 3–6 months. In Group 1 Per/Ind was initiated in newly diagnosed patients (n = 7032); in Group 2 Per/Ind replaced previous therapy in patients already treated but having either their BP still uncontrolled or experiencing side-effects (n = 7423); in Group 3 Per/Ind was added to previous treatment in patients with persistently high BP (n = 3483). BP was considered normalized when ≤ 140/90 mm Hg. A multivariate analysis for predictors of BP normalization was performed.
Subjects were on average 62 years old and had a baseline BP of 162.3/93.6 mm Hg. After treatment with Per/Ind, BP normalization was reached in 69.6% of patients in the Initiation group, 67.5% in the Replacement Group, and 67.4% in the Add-on Group (where patients were more frequently at risk, diabetic, or with target organ damage). Mean decreases in systolic BP of 22.8 mm Hg and in diastolic BP of 12.4 mm Hg were recorded.
This trial was established to reflect everyday clinical practice, and a treatment strategy based on the Per/Ind combination, administered as initial, replacement, or add-on therapy, led to normalization rates that were superior to those observed in Europe in routine practice. These results support recent hypertension guidelines which encourage the use of combination therapy in the management of arterial hypertension.
PMCID: PMC1994035  PMID: 17583188
perindopril; indapamide; blood pressure normalization; risk factors; combination therapy
22.  Hip Fracture Incidence in Relation to Age, Menopausal Status, and Age at Menopause: Prospective Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000181.
Using data from the UK Million Women Study, Emily Banks and colleagues investigate the relationships between the incidence of hip fracture and a woman's age, menopausal status, and age at menopause.
Bone mineral density is known to decrease rapidly after the menopause. There is limited evidence about the separate contributions of a woman's age, menopausal status and age at menopause to the incidence of hip fracture.
Methods and Findings
Over one million middle-aged women joined the UK Million Women Study in 1996–2001 providing information on their menopausal status, age at menopause, and other factors, which was updated, where possible, 3 y later. All women were registered with the UK National Health Service (NHS) and were routinely linked to information on cause-specific admissions to NHS hospitals. 561,609 women who had never used hormone replacement therapy and who provided complete information on menopausal variables (at baseline 25% were pre/perimenopausal and 75% postmenopausal) were followed up for a total of 3.4 million woman-years (an average 6.2 y per woman). During follow-up 1,676 (0.3%) were admitted to hospital with a first incident hip fracture. Among women aged 50–54 y the relative risk (RR) of hip fracture risk was significantly higher in postmenopausal than premenopausal women (adjusted RR 2.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22–4.04; p = 0.009); there were too few premenopausal women aged 55 y and over for valid comparisons. Among postmenopausal women, hip fracture incidence increased steeply with age (p<0.001), with rates being about seven times higher at age 70–74 y than at 50–54 y (incidence rates of 0.82 versus 0.11 per 100 women over 5 y). Among postmenopausal women of a given age there was no significant difference in hip fracture incidence between women whose menopause was due to bilateral oophorectomy compared to a natural menopause (adjusted RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.94–1.55; p = 0.15), and age at menopause had little, if any, effect on hip fracture incidence.
At around the time of the menopause, hip fracture incidence is about twice as high in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women, but this effect is short lived. Among postmenopausal women, age is by far the main determinant of hip fracture incidence and, for women of a given age, their age at menopause has, at most, a weak additional effect.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Anyone can break a hip but most hip fractures occur in elderly people. As people age, their bones gradually lose minerals and become less dense, which weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. Because women lose bone density faster than men as they age and because women constitute the majority of the elderly, three-quarters of hip fractures occur in women. Hip fractures can cause long-term health problems and premature death. Thus, although surgical repair of a broken hip usually only requires a hospital stay of about a week, a quarter of elderly people who were living independently before their fracture have to stay in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury and a fifth of elderly people who break a hip die within the year. Most hip fractures are caused by falls. Regular exercise to improve strength and balance combined with review of medicines (to reduce side effects and interactions), regular eye examinations, and the removal of fall hazards from the home can help to prevent hip fractures in elderly people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Bone density decreases very rapidly in women immediately after menopause—the time when menstruation permanently stops—and then continues to decrease more slowly with age. Most women have their menopause in their early 50s but menopause can occur in younger women. Early menopause is thought to be a risk factor for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) and fractures later in life but little is known about how menopause influences hip fracture risk as women age. In this prospective study (a type of study in which a group of people is followed for several years to see whether they develop a particular condition), the researchers investigate the incidence of hip fractures in relation to age, menopausal status, and age at menopause among the participants of the Million Women Study. This study, which recruited 1.3 million women aged 50–64 years who attended UK breast cancer screening clinics between 1996 and 2001, has been investigating how reproductive and lifestyle factors affect women's health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
At enrollment and three years later, the study participants provided information about their menopausal status and other health and lifestyle factors likely to affect their fracture risk. From these data, the researchers identified more than half a million women who had never used hormone replacement therapy (which reduces fracture risk) and who had given complete information about their menopausal status. They then looked for statistical associations between the occurrence of a first hip fracture in these women over the next few years and their age, menopausal status, and age at menopause. Among women aged 50–54 years, postmenopausal women were twice as likely to have a hip fracture as premenopausal women. Among postmenopausal women, the incidence of hip fractures increased steeply with age and was seven times higher in 70–74-year olds than in 50–54-year olds. Women who had their menopause before age 45 had a slightly increased risk of hip fracture but any effect of age at menopause on the risk of hip fracture was small compared to the effect of age itself, and the slightly increased risk may have been due to other factors that could not be fully accounted for in the analysis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that around the time of menopause, although hip fractures are rare, the risk of a fracture in postmenopausal women is twice that in premenopausal women. The findings also show that among postmenopausal women, age is the major determinant of hip fracture risk and that for women of a given age, their age at menopause has little effect on hip fracture risk. Women attending breast cancer screening clinics and completing questionnaires about their health may not be representative of the general population. Furthermore, these findings rely on women self-reporting their menopausal status accurately. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that clinicians advising women about hip fracture prevention should probably base their advice on the woman's age and on age-related factors such as frailty rather than on factors related to menopause. Clinicians can also now reassure elderly women who had an early menopause that their risk of hip fracture is unlikely to be higher than that of similar women who had a later menopause.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has detailed information about hip fractures
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoloskeletal and Skin Diseases has an interactive feature called “Check up on your bones and provides detailed information about osteoporosis, including advice on fall prevention
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a fact sheet about hip fractures among older adults
MedlinePlus has links to resources about hip fracture, osteoporosis, and menopause (in English and Spanish)
More information on the Million Women Study is available
PMCID: PMC2766835  PMID: 19901981
23.  Utilization of DXA Bone Mineral Densitometry in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Systematic reviews and analyses of administrative data were performed to determine the appropriate use of bone mineral density (BMD) assessments using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and the associated trends in wrist and hip fractures in Ontario.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Bone Mineral Density Assessment
Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry bone densitometers measure bone density based on differential absorption of 2 x-ray beams by bone and soft tissues. It is the gold standard for detecting and diagnosing osteoporosis, a systemic disease characterized by low bone density and altered bone structure, resulting in low bone strength and increased risk of fractures. The test is fast (approximately 10 minutes) and accurate (exceeds 90% at the hip), with low radiation (1/3 to 1/5 of that from a chest x-ray). DXA densitometers are licensed as Class 3 medical devices in Canada. The World Health Organization has established criteria for osteoporosis and osteopenia based on DXA BMD measurements: osteoporosis is defined as a BMD that is >2.5 standard deviations below the mean BMD for normal young adults (i.e. T-score <–2.5), while osteopenia is defined as BMD that is more than 1 standard deviation but less than 2.5 standard deviation below the mean for normal young adults (i.e. T-score< –1 & ≥–2.5). DXA densitometry is presently an insured health service in Ontario.
Clinical Need
Burden of Disease
The Canadian Multicenter Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) found that 16% of Canadian women and 6.6% of Canadian men have osteoporosis based on the WHO criteria, with prevalence increasing with age. Osteopenia was found in 49.6% of Canadian women and 39% of Canadian men. In Ontario, it is estimated that nearly 530,000 Ontarians have some degrees of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis-related fragility fractures occur most often in the wrist, femur and pelvis. These fractures, particularly those in the hip, are associated with increased mortality, and decreased functional capacity and quality of life. A Canadian study showed that at 1 year after a hip fracture, the mortality rate was 20%. Another 20% required institutional care, 40% were unable to walk independently, and there was lower health-related quality of life due to attributes such as pain, decreased mobility and decreased ability to self-care. The cost of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in Canada was estimated to be $1.3 billion in 1993.
Guidelines for Bone Mineral Density Testing
With 2 exceptions, almost all guidelines address only women. None of the guidelines recommend blanket population-based BMD testing. Instead, all guidelines recommend BMD testing in people at risk of osteoporosis, predominantly women aged 65 years or older. For women under 65 years of age, BMD testing is recommended only if one major or two minor risk factors for osteoporosis exist. Osteoporosis Canada did not restrict its recommendations to women, and thus their guidelines apply to both sexes. Major risk factors are age greater than or equal to 65 years, a history of previous fractures, family history (especially parental history) of fracture, and medication or disease conditions that affect bone metabolism (such as long-term glucocorticoid therapy). Minor risk factors include low body mass index, low calcium intake, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
Current Funding for Bone Mineral Density Testing
The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) Schedule presently reimburses DXA BMD at the hip and spine. Measurements at both sites are required if feasible. Patients at low risk of accelerated bone loss are limited to one BMD test within any 24-month period, but there are no restrictions on people at high risk. The total fee including the professional and technical components for a test involving 2 or more sites is $106.00 (Cdn).
Method of Review
This review consisted of 2 parts. The first part was an analysis of Ontario administrative data relating to DXA BMD, wrist and hip fractures, and use of antiresorptive drugs in people aged 65 years and older. The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences extracted data from the OHIP claims database, the Canadian Institute for Health Information hospital discharge abstract database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System, and the Ontario Drug Benefit database using OHIP and ICD-10 codes. The data was analyzed to examine the trends in DXA BMD use from 1992 to 2005, and to identify areas requiring improvement.
The second part included systematic reviews and analyses of evidence relating to issues identified in the analyses of utilization data. Altogether, 8 reviews and qualitative syntheses were performed, consisting of 28 published systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses, 34 randomized controlled trials, and 63 observational studies.
Findings of Utilization Analysis
Analysis of administrative data showed a 10-fold increase in the number of BMD tests in Ontario between 1993 and 2005.
OHIP claims for BMD tests are presently increasing at a rate of 6 to 7% per year. Approximately 500,000 tests were performed in 2005/06 with an age-adjusted rate of 8,600 tests per 100,000 population.
Women accounted for 90 % of all BMD tests performed in the province.
In 2005/06, there was a 2-fold variation in the rate of DXA BMD tests across local integrated health networks, but a 10-fold variation between the county with the highest rate (Toronto) and that with the lowest rate (Kenora). The analysis also showed that:
With the increased use of BMD, there was a concomitant increase in the use of antiresorptive drugs (as shown in people 65 years and older) and a decrease in the rate of hip fractures in people age 50 years and older.
Repeat BMD made up approximately 41% of all tests. Most of the people (>90%) who had annual BMD tests in a 2-year or 3-year period were coded as being at high risk for osteoporosis.
18% (20,865) of the people who had a repeat BMD within a 24-month period and 34% (98,058) of the people who had one BMD test in a 3-year period were under 65 years, had no fracture in the year, and coded as low-risk.
Only 19% of people age greater than 65 years underwent BMD testing and 41% received osteoporosis treatment during the year following a fracture.
Men accounted for 24% of all hip fractures and 21 % of all wrist fractures, but only 10% of BMD tests. The rates of BMD tests and treatment in men after a fracture were only half of those in women.
In both men and women, the rate of hip and wrist fractures mainly increased after age 65 with the sharpest increase occurring after age 80 years.
Findings of Systematic Review and Analysis
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing for People Not Receiving Osteoporosis Treatment
A systematic review showed that the mean rate of bone loss in people not receiving osteoporosis treatment (including postmenopausal women) is generally less than 1% per year. Higher rates of bone loss were reported for people with disease conditions or on medications that affect bone metabolism. In order to be considered a genuine biological change, the change in BMD between serial measurements must exceed the least significant change (variability) of the testing, ranging from 2.77% to 8% for precisions ranging from 1% to 3% respectively. Progression in BMD was analyzed, using different rates of baseline BMD values, rates of bone loss, precision, and BMD value for initiating treatment. The analyses showed that serial BMD measurements every 24 months (as per OHIP policy for low-risk individuals) is not necessary for people with no major risk factors for osteoporosis, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score ≥ –1), and the rate of bone loss is less than or equal to 1% per year. The analyses showed that for someone with a normal baseline BMD and a rate of bone loss of less than 1% per year, the change in BMD is not likely to exceed least significant change (even for a 1% precision) in less than 3 years after the baseline test, and is not likely to drop to a BMD level that requires initiation of treatment in less than 16 years after the baseline test.
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing in People Receiving Osteoporosis Therapy
Seven published meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 2 recent RCTs on BMD monitoring during osteoporosis therapy showed that although higher increases in BMD were generally associated with reduced risk of fracture, the change in BMD only explained a small percentage of the fracture risk reduction.
Studies showed that some people with small or no increase in BMD during treatment experienced significant fracture risk reduction, indicating that other factors such as improved bone microarchitecture might have contributed to fracture risk reduction.
There is conflicting evidence relating to the role of BMD testing in improving patient compliance with osteoporosis therapy.
Even though BMD may not be a perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk when monitoring responses to osteoporosis therapy, experts advised that it is still the only reliable test available for this purpose.
A systematic review conducted by the Medical Advisory Secretariat showed that the magnitude of increases in BMD during osteoporosis drug therapy varied among medications. Although most of the studies yielded mean percentage increases in BMD from baseline that did not exceed the least significant change for a 2% precision after 1 year of treatment, there were some exceptions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing and Treatment After a Fragility Fracture
A review of 3 published pooled analyses of observational studies and 12 prospective population-based observational studies showed that the presence of any prevalent fracture increases the relative risk for future fractures by approximately 2-fold or more. A review of 10 systematic reviews of RCTs and 3 additional RCTs showed that therapy with antiresorptive drugs significantly reduced the risk of vertebral fractures by 40 to 50% in postmenopausal osteoporotic women and osteoporotic men, and 2 antiresorptive drugs also reduced the risk of nonvertebral fractures by 30 to 50%. Evidence from observational studies in Canada and other jurisdictions suggests that patients who had undergone BMD measurements, particularly if a diagnosis of osteoporosis is made, were more likely to be given pharmacologic bone-sparing therapy. Despite these findings, the rate of BMD investigation and osteoporosis treatment after a fracture remained low (<20%) in Ontario as well as in other jurisdictions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing in Men
There are presently no specific Canadian guidelines for BMD screening in men. A review of the literature suggests that risk factors for fracture and the rate of vertebral deformity are similar for men and women, but the mortality rate after a hip fracture is higher in men compared with women. Two bisphosphonates had been shown to reduce the risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men. However, BMD testing and osteoporosis treatment were proportionately low in Ontario men in general, and particularly after a fracture, even though men accounted for 25% of the hip and wrist fractures. The Ontario data also showed that the rates of wrist fracture and hip fracture in men rose sharply in the 75- to 80-year age group.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
The economic analysis focused on analyzing the economic impact of decreasing future hip fractures by increasing the rate of BMD testing in men and women age greater than or equal to 65 years following a hip or wrist fracture. A decision analysis showed the above strategy, especially when enhanced by improved reporting of BMD tests, to be cost-effective, resulting in a cost-effectiveness ratio ranging from $2,285 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (worst-case scenario) to $1,981 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (best-case scenario). A budget impact analysis estimated that shifting utilization of BMD testing from the low risk population to high risk populations within Ontario would result in a saving of $0.85 million to $1.5 million (Cdn) to the health system. The potential net saving was estimated at $1.2 million to $5 million (Cdn) when the downstream cost-avoidance due to prevention of future hip fractures was factored into the analysis.
Other Factors for Consideration
There is a lack of standardization for BMD testing in Ontario. Two different standards are presently being used and experts suggest that variability in results from different facilities may lead to unnecessary testing. There is also no requirement for standardized equipment, procedure or reporting format. The current reimbursement policy for BMD testing encourages serial testing in people at low risk of accelerated bone loss. This review showed that biannual testing is not necessary for all cases. The lack of a database to collect clinical data on BMD testing makes it difficult to evaluate the clinical profiles of patients tested and outcomes of the BMD tests. There are ministry initiatives in progress under the Osteoporosis Program to address the development of a mandatory standardized requisition form for BMD tests to facilitate data collection and clinical decision-making. Work is also underway for developing guidelines for BMD testing in men and in perimenopausal women.
Increased use of BMD in Ontario since 1996 appears to be associated with increased use of antiresorptive medication and a decrease in hip and wrist fractures.
Data suggest that as many as 20% (98,000) of the DXA BMD tests in Ontario in 2005/06 were performed in people aged less than 65 years, with no fracture in the current year, and coded as being at low risk for accelerated bone loss; this is not consistent with current guidelines. Even though some of these people might have been incorrectly coded as low-risk, the number of tests in people truly at low risk could still be substantial.
Approximately 4% (21,000) of the DXA BMD tests in 2005/06 were repeat BMDs in low-risk individuals within a 24-month period. Even though this is in compliance with current OHIP reimbursement policies, evidence showed that biannual serial BMD testing is not necessary in individuals without major risk factors for fractures, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score < –1). In this population, BMD measurements may be repeated in 3 to 5 years after the baseline test to establish the rate of bone loss, and further serial BMD tests may not be necessary for another 7 to 10 years if the rate of bone loss is no more than 1% per year. Precision of the test needs to be considered when interpreting serial BMD results.
Although changes in BMD may not be the perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk as a measure of response to osteoporosis treatment, experts advised that it is presently the only reliable test for monitoring response to treatment and to help motivate patients to continue treatment. Patients should not discontinue treatment if there is no increase in BMD after the first year of treatment. Lack of response or bone loss during treatment should prompt the physician to examine whether the patient is taking the medication appropriately.
Men and women who have had a fragility fracture at the hip, spine, wrist or shoulder are at increased risk of having a future fracture, but this population is presently under investigated and under treated. Additional efforts have to be made to communicate to physicians (particularly orthopaedic surgeons and family physicians) and the public about the need for a BMD test after fracture, and for initiating treatment if low BMD is found.
Men had a disproportionately low rate of BMD tests and osteoporosis treatment, especially after a fracture. Evidence and fracture data showed that the risk of hip and wrist fractures in men rises sharply at age 70 years.
Some counties had BMD utilization rates that were only 10% of that of the county with the highest utilization. The reasons for low utilization need to be explored and addressed.
Initiatives such as aligning reimbursement policy with current guidelines, developing specific guidelines for BMD testing in men and perimenopausal women, improving BMD reports to assist in clinical decision making, developing a registry to track BMD tests, improving access to BMD tests in remote/rural counties, establishing mechanisms to alert family physicians of fractures, and educating physicians and the public, will improve the appropriate utilization of BMD tests, and further decrease the rate of fractures in Ontario. Some of these initiatives such as developing guidelines for perimenopausal women and men, and developing a standardized requisition form for BMD testing, are currently in progress under the Ontario Osteoporosis Strategy.
PMCID: PMC3379167  PMID: 23074491
24.  The Effects of Mandatory Prescribing of Thiazides for Newly Treated, Uncomplicated Hypertension: Interrupted Time-Series Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e232.
The purpose of our study was to evaluate the effects of a new reimbursement rule for antihypertensive medication that made thiazides mandatory first-line drugs for newly treated, uncomplicated hypertension. The objective of the new regulation was to reduce drug expenditures.
Methods and Findings
We conducted an interrupted time-series analysis on prescribing data before and after the new reimbursement rule for antihypertensive medication was put into effect. All patients started on antihypertensive medication in 61 general practices in Norway were included in the analysis. The new rule was put forward by the Ministry of Health and was approved by parliament. Adherence to the rule was monitored only minimally, and there were no penalties for non-adherence. Our primary outcome was the proportion of thiazide prescriptions among all prescriptions made for persons started on antihypertensive medication. Secondary outcomes included the proportion of patients who, within 4 mo, reached recommended blood-pressure goals and the proportion of patients who, within 4 mo, were not started on a second antihypertensive drug. We also compared drug costs before and after the intervention. During the baseline period, 10% of patients started on antihypertensive medication were given a thiazide prescription. This proportion rose steadily during the transition period, after which it remained stable at 25%. For other outcomes, no statistically significant differences were demonstrated. Achievement of treatment goals was slightly higher (56.6% versus 58.4%) after the new rule was introduced, and the prescribing of a second drug was slightly lower (24.0% versus 21.8%). Drug costs were reduced by an estimated Norwegian kroner 4.8 million (€0.58 million, US$0.72 million) in the first year, which is equivalent to Norwegian kroner 1.06 per inhabitant (€0.13, US$0.16).
Prescribing of thiazides in Norway for uncomplicated hypertension more than doubled after a reimbursement rule requiring the use of thiazides as the first-choice therapy was put into effect. However, the resulting savings on drug expenditures were modest. There were no significant changes in the achievement of treatment goals or in the prescribing of a second antihypertensive drug.
Atle Fretheim and colleagues found that the prescribing of thiazides in Norway for uncomplicated hypertension more than doubled after a rule requiring their use as first-choice therapy was put into effect.
Editors' Summary
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common medical condition, especially among elderly people. It has no obvious symptoms but can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or kidney failure. It is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure—the force that blood moving around the body exerts on the inside of arteries (large blood vessels). Many factors affect blood pressure (which depends on the amount of blood being pumped round the body and on the size and condition of the arteries), but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Mild hypertension can often be corrected by making lifestyle changes, but many patients also take one or more antihypertensive agents. These include thiazide diuretics and several types of non-thiazide drugs, many of which reduce heart rate or contractility and/or dilate blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Antihypertensive agents are a major part of national drug expenditure in developed countries, where as many as one person in ten is treated for hypertension. The different classes of drugs are all effective, but their cost varies widely. Thiazides, for example, are a tenth of the price of many non-thiazide drugs. In Norway, the low use of thiazides recently led the government to impose a new reimbursement rule aimed at reducing public expenditure on antihypertensive drugs. Since March 2004, family doctors have been reimbursed for drug costs only if they prescribe thiazides as first-line therapy for uncomplicated hypertension, unless there are medical reasons for selecting other drugs. Adherence to the rule has not been monitored, and there is no penalty for non-adherence, so has this intervention changed prescribing practices? To find out, the researchers in this study analyzed Norwegian prescribing data before and after the new rule came into effect.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the monthly antihypertensive drug–prescribing records of 61 practices around Oslo, Norway, between January 2003 and November 2003 (pre-intervention period), between December 2003 and February 2004 (transition period), and between March 2004 and January 2005 (post-intervention period). This type of study is called an “interrupted time series”. During the pre-intervention period, one in ten patients starting antihypertensive medication was prescribed a thiazide drug. This proportion gradually increased during the transition period before stabilizing at one in four patients throughout the post-intervention period. A slightly higher proportion of patients reached their recommended blood-pressure goal after the rule was introduced than before, and a slightly lower proportion needed to switch to a second drug class, but both these small differences may have been due to chance. Finally, the researchers estimated that the observed change in prescribing practices reduced drug costs per Norwegian by US$0.16 (€0.13) in the first year.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Past attempts to change antihypertensive-prescribing practices by trying to influence family doctors (for example, through education) have largely failed. By contrast, these findings suggest that imposing a change on them (in this case, by introducing a new reimbursement rule) can be effective (at least over the short term and in the practices included in the study), even when compliance with the change is not monitored nor noncompliance penalized. However, despite a large shift towards prescribing thiazides, three-quarters of patients were still prescribed non-thiazide drugs (possibly because of doubts about the efficacy of thiazides as first-line drugs), which emphasizes how hard it is to change doctors' prescribing habits. Further studies are needed to investigate whether the approach examined in this study can effectively contain the costs of antihypertensive drugs (and of drugs used for other common medical conditions) in the long term and in other settings. Also, because the estimated reduction in drug costs produced by the intervention was relatively modest (although likely to increase over time as more patients start on thiazides), other ways to change prescribing practices and produce savings in national drug expenditures should be investigated.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia page on hypertension (in English and Spanish)
UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence information on hypertension for patients, carers, and professionals
American Heart Association information for patients on high blood pressure
An open-access research article describing the potential savings of using thiazides as the first-choice antihypertensive drug
A previous study in Norway, published in PLoS Medicine, examined what happened when doctors were actively encouraged to make more use of thiazides. There was also an economic evaluation of what this achieved
PMCID: PMC1904466  PMID: 17622192
25.  Combination therapy of hypertension in the elderly: a subgroup analysis of the Combination of OLMesartan and a calcium channel blocker or diuretic in Japanese elderly hypertensive patients trial 
Hypertension Research  2014;38(1):89-96.
Combination of OLMesartan and a calcium channel blocker or a diuretic in Japanese elderly hypertensive patients (COLM) trial demonstrated that olmesartan combinations with a CCB or diuretic have similar effects on reducing cardiovascular risk in elderly hypertensive patients. However, the safety profiles suggest that olmesartan combined with CCB may be preferable to olmesartan combined with diuretic. In this subgroup analysis, we further evaluated the effects and safety of these combinations in elderly (65–74 years old (y.o.)) and very elderly (75–84 y.o.) hypertensive patients. In the COLM trial, 5141 patients (2918 elderly and 2223 very elderly) were randomly assigned to receive olmesartan-based therapy with either CCB or diuretic. The hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals, respectively, in the elderly age group and in the very elderly group were: 1.04 (0.72–1.50; olmesartan plus CCB vs. olmesartan plus diuretic, P=0.85) and 0.71 (0.51–0.99, P=0.045) for the primary composite end point, and 1.07 (0.67–1.72, P=0.77) and 0.64 (0.42–0.98, P=0.036) for the composite of hard end points. The hazard ratios for stroke (fatal and non-fatal) were 1.48 (0.88–2.48; olmesartan plus CCB vs. olmesartan plus diuretic, P=0.13) and 0.63 (0.39–1.02, P=0.059) (interaction-P=0.019). Withdrawal rates from the trial, withdrawal due to serious adverse event and the incidence of any adverse event were higher in the olmesartan plus diuretic group than in the olmesartan plus CCB group in both age groups. In conclusion, angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) and CCB combination may be preferable to an ARB and diuretic combination in the very elderly hypertensive patients for the reduction of cardiovascular risk, particularly for the reduction in stroke risk.
PMCID: PMC4287656  PMID: 25253583
calcium channel blocker; combination therapy; diuretic; elderly hypertension; olmesartan

Results 1-25 (1417910)