1990 Volume 52 Issue 2 Pages 189-193
Hypertensive crises require immediate therapy, usually by parenteral drug administration. Sublingual nifedipine has been shown to be highly effective. However, the blood pressure fall following nifedipine is frequently associated with side effects. The use of sublingual captopril has recently been indicated in hypertensive crisis, assuming that by this route, there would be a faster absorption and thus a more rapid effect on blood pressure than with the oral route. To verify this hypothesis, we have compared the hypotensive effects of sublingual nifedipine and sublingual captopril in 52 patients with hypertensive emergencies: 25-mg captopril and 10-mg nifedipine were administered sublingually to 28 and 24 patients, respectively. Blood pressures and heart rates were continuously measured up to 240 min postdose. A significant (P<0.001) hypotensive effect of both sublingual captopril and nifedipine therapy occured at 5 min and persisted for 240 min. Heart rates increased with nifedipine, but decreased with captopril. We observed no sideeffects in the captopril group, but flushing, tachycardia and headache were observed in 6 patients in the nifedipine group. We conclude that sublingual captopril is effective in patients with hypertensive emergencies and that captopril may be an excellent alternative to sublingual nifedipine in the urgent treatment of hypertensive crisis.