Papers And Short Reports

Ambulatory blood pressure during once-daily randomised double-blind administration of atenolol, metoprolol, pindolol, and slow-release propranolol

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 13 November 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:1387
  1. J S Floras,
  2. J V Jones,
  3. M O Hassan,
  4. P Sleight


    Intra-arterial ambulatory blood pressure was measured over 24 hours, in 34 patients with newly diagnosed hypertension, both before and after double-blind randomisation to treatment with atenolol (n=9), metoprolol (n=9), pindolol (n=9), or propranolol in its slow-release form (n=7). The dosage of each drug was adjusted at monthly clinic visits until satisfactory control of blood pressure was achieved (140/90 mm Hg or less by cuff) or the maximum dose in the study protocol was reached. A second intra-arterial recording was made after these drugs had been taken once daily at 0800 for three to eight months (mean 5·0±SD 1·4) and was started four hours after the last dose.

    At the end of the 24-hour recordings blood pressure was significantly lower with all four drugs. The extent to which the drugs reduced blood pressure, however, differed over the 24 hours. Atenolol lowered mean arterial pressure significantly throughout all 24 recorded hours, metoprolol for 12 hours, pindolol for 15 hours, and slow-release propranolol for 22 hours. Neither metoprolol nor pindolol lowered blood pressure during sleep. A significant reduction in heart rate was observed over 20 hours with atenolol, 20 hours with metoprolol, 10 hours with pindolol, and 24 hours with slow-release propranolol. Atenolol, metoprolol, and slow-release propranolol continued to slow the heart rate 24 hours after the last tablet was taken; this effect on heart rate, however, was not sustained throughout the second morning in those patients taking atenolol. Pindolol, the only drug studied that has intrinsic sympathomimetic activity, increased heart rate and did not lower blood pressure during sleep.

    Atenolol and slow-release propranolol are effective as antihypertensive agents over 24 hours when taken once daily, whereas metoprolol and pindolol may need to be taken more frequently. At times of low sympathetic tone, however, such as during sleep, beta-blockers with intrinsic sympathomimetic activity may raise heart rate and attenuate the fall in blood pressure with treatment.