Cardiovascular disease is understood as a continuum; risk factors induce a pathophysiologic cascade that culminates in end-organ failure. The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) influences multiple aspects of the pathophysiology via hemodynamic and nonhemodynamic effects. Many long-term clinical trials provide overwhelming evidence of benefits of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) across the cardiovascular continuum, including benefits regarding hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, renal disease, and heart failure. Trials also indicate additive or synergistic effects of combination therapy in renal disease and heart failure, a possibility supported by the basic biochemistry of the agents. Discussion of these trials is included in part 1 of this 2-part review. Part 2 of the review will discuss the extensive interaction of the RAS with the cellular and molecular pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease and the cross-continuum effects of ARBs and ACE inhibitors, which raise the possibility that RAS inhibition can offer protection in high-risk patients who do not have symptoms. The benefits of combined ACE inhibitor/ARB therapy in high-risk patients await confirmation; ongoing clinical research in this area will be discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health