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Cardiol Rev. 2006 Jan-Feb;14(1):26-34.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers in congestive heart failure.

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Division of Cardiology, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The benefits of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for the treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF) are well-established. A newer class of medications, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), may be a suitable replacement for ACE inhibitors as a result of a more complete inhibition of angiotensin II and better tolerability among patients. To examine the current literature on the efficacy and safety of ARBs in the setting of CHF, a Medline search was conducted of the English language literature for the years 1987 to 2005. Clinical trials that reported data on cardiac outcomes were reviewed. The earlier trials were direct ARB to ACE inhibitor comparisons (ELITE I and ELITE II). These studies indicated that ARBs do not confer an improvement in cardiac outcomes over ACE inhibitors. RESOLVD, Val-HeFT, and the 3 separate trials of the CHARM program investigated the addition of an ARB to standard therapy. The RESOLVD trial showed no significant differences in clinical events among ACE inhibitor, ARB, and their combination. Although no mortality benefit was evident in the Val-HeFT trial, a substantial reduction in CHF rehospitalizations was reported among patients who were not receiving ACE inhibitor therapy. The CHARM-Overall program demonstrated a significant benefit in cardiovascular death and hospital admissions for CHF with the addition of ARB to standard therapy, a benefit that was more pronounced in patients with depressed left ventricular ejection fraction. In the setting of CHF, rates of cardiac outcomes do not differ substantially between ARBs and ACE inhibitors. However, their combination may improve outcomes for patients with CHF.

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