Suppression of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system in chronic heart failure: Choice of agents and clinical impact

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21 Scopus citations


Chronic heart failure (CHF) has taken on epidemic proportions in the United States, with approximately 550,000 new cases annually. With the evolution of pharmacotherapy targeting neurohormonal pathways over the past 2 decades, the annual mortality in subjects with New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV has dramatically improved from 52% in the seminal CONSENSUS trial to less than 20% in more recent trials in CHF. Suppression of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) with various angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors has been proven to save lives in several large-scale trials of CHF, and all of them can be used at doses tested in clinical trials without clear preference of one over another. Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) can be used in place of ACE inhibitors in the case of ACE inhibitor intolerance with comparable results. However, some inconsistencies exist between trials with ARBs, and it is uncertain if the ARBs tested in clinical trials provide comparable clinical benefit whether used in place of or in combination with ACE inhibitors. Once ACE inhibition has been started, beta blockade should follow for all subjects with symptomatic CHF. Triple neurohormonal blockade can then be accomplished with the addition of an aldosterone receptor or ARB. Regardless of the exact agent used or sequence of initiation, the critical importance of careful monitoring of neurohormonal blockade cannot be overstated. Renal failure and hyperkalemia are the most important complications of suppression of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), and an increase in hospital admissions and death from hyperkalemia after publication of the RALES trial illustrates the danger of "casual" use of neurohormonal blockers. In light of the tremendous benefits of neurohormonal blockade, the only conclusion from these data is to initiate RAAS-blocking agents following the safety precautions tested in the respective clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalCardiology in review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Class effect
  • Heart failure
  • Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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