Indexed on: 07 Jun '06Published on: 07 Jun '06Published in: Current opinion in cardiology
Inhibition of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system has become a cornerstone of modern heart failure and myocardial infarction therapy. This article will review the background and major clinical trials that have shaped this field over the past 15 years.Major clinical trials have firmly established angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors as the standard of care in patients with heart failure and following myocardial infarction. Over the past several years, a number of trials have tested the hypothesis that an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) could be as effective as, or more effective than, ACE inhibitors in these clinical settings. The results of these trials, while establishing a clear role for ARBs, have been subtly different in distinct patient populations.The most recent trials of ARBs in heart failure and myocardial infarction patients suggest a role for angiotensin receptor blockers in patients with heart failure who are intolerant to ACE inhibitors and who are on optimal ACE inhibitor therapy. In patients with acute high-risk myocardial infarction, the VALIANT trial has established that the ARB was as effective as an ACE inhibitor following myocardial infarction. These studies have thus provided clinicians with alternatives to ACE inhibitors in these important clinical syndromes.