Are newer types of antihypertensive agents, which are currently more costly to purchase on average, as good orbetter than diuretics in reducing coronary heart disease incidence and progression? Will lowering LDL cholesterol in moderately hypercholesterolemic older individuals reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and total mortality?

These important medical practice and public health questions are to be addressed by the Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT), a randomized, double-blind trial in 40,000 high-risk hypertensive patients. ALLHAT is designed to determine whether the combined incidence of fa tal coronary he art disease (CHD) and nonfatal myocardial infarction differs between persons randomized to diuretic (chlorthalidone) treatment and each of three alternative treatments—a calcium antagonist (amlodipine), an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (lisinopril), and an α -adrenergic blocker (doxazosin). ALLHAT also contains a randomized, open-label, lipid-lowering trial designed to determine whether lowering LDL cholesterol in 20,000 moderately hypercholesterolemic patients (a subset of the 40,000) with a 3-hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase inhibitor, pravastatin, will reduce all-cause mortality compared to a control group receiving “usual care.”

ALLHAT's main eligibility criteria are: 1) age 55 or older; 2) systolic or diastolic hypertension; and 3) one or more additional risk factors for heart attack (eg, evidence of atherosclerotic disease or type II diabetes). For the lipid-lowering trial, participants must have an LDL cholesterol of 120 to 189 mg/ dL (100 to 129 mg/ dL for those with known CHD) and a triglyceride level below 350 mg/dL. The mean duration of treatment and follow-up is planned to be 6 years. Further features of the rationale, design, objectives, treatment program, and study organization of ALLHAT are described in this article. Am J Hypertens 1996;9:342–360

This research was supported by Health and Human Services contract number (N01-HC-35130) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland. See additional statement in the acknowledgements.