Interactions between the sympathetic nervous system and the RAAS in heart failure
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- Goldsmith, S.R. Curr Heart Fail Rep (2004) 1: 45. doi:10.1007/s11897-004-0024-5
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Therapy for heart failure caused by left ventricular systolic dysfunction is based on interference with maladaptive activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Agents that block β-adrenergic receptors, decrease angiotensin-II formation, and antagonize the effects of angiotensin II and aldosterone have been shown to improve morbidity and mortality in this syndrome. Therefore, from a theoretical point of view, it would be desirable to actually diminish the degree of overactivity of these two homeostatic systems. There are compelling physiologic arguments and much experimental data to suggest that β-adrenergic blockade may diminish activity of the RAAS. Conversely, angiotensinconverting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-II antagonists, and aldosterone antagonists may diminish activity of the SNS. Some clinical trials data may be interpreted in a fashion that suggests that part of the benefit of interfering with each system may relate to diminishing activity of the other. If true, combined therapy may lead to a virtuous cycle in which diminishing the adverse effects of each individual system is combined with reduced activity of the other. Such a cycle may be one factor underlying the impressive clinical results of recent neurohormonally based therapeutic trials and reinforces the need to look beyond acute hemodynamic effects of therapeutic agents when assessing their long-term impact in heart failure.