Are clinical endpoint benefits of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors independent of their blood pressure effects?
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Both basic and experimental data indicate that the reninangiotensin system through angiotensin II mediates its classic hemodynamic role, but also has a significant deleterious role in a number of cardiac, vascular, and renal disorders. Indeed, evidence indicates that angiotensin II negatively impacts endothelial function, cardiac remodeling, vessel wall hypertrophy, atherosclerosis, and progressive renal disease. Newer data point to a significant role for angiotensin II in inflammation and in inducing plasminogen activator inhibitor. This widespread negative effect can be countered by newer antihypertensive drugs, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers. Both small and large clinical trials suggest a large benefit of such drugs on not only organ-specific endpoints such as renal disease or proteinuria, but on global cardiovascular events. It does appear that when blood pressure is significantly elevated, lowering blood pressure does indeed provide protection for larger endpoints such as stroke. However, at lower blood pressure levels, a hemodynamically independent effect is likely to be contributing to the positive effects. We should embrace these effects and champion them for our patients.
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