Hydrochlorothiazide Versus Chlorthalidone
Evidence Supporting Their Interchangeability
Thiazide diuretics are one of the preferred pharmacologic treatments for hypertension. Hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone have been the 2 most commonly used diuretics in major clinical trials. Treatment guidelines and compendia often consider these 2 drugs interchangeable agents within the class of thiazide or thiazide-like diuretics. Many sources list them as equipotent. Despite these beliefs, there is some suggestion that cardiovascular outcomes are not necessarily the same with these 2 drugs. We conducted a literature search from 1960 to 2003 to identify studies that evaluated the pharmacokinetic and blood pressure–lowering effects of these 2 agents. There are significant pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic differences between these diuretics. Chlorthalidone is ≈1.5 to 2.0 times as potent as hydrochlorothiazide, and the former has a much longer duration of action. Whether these pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic features cause differences in outcomes is not known.
- Received September 12, 2003.
- Revision received September 30, 2003.
- Accepted October 16, 2003.