Physiol. Res. 48: 1-8, 1999


Heart Failure and Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibition: Problems and Perspectives


Department of Pathophysiology, Medical Faculty, and Center of Human Genetics, Faculty Hospital, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Received December 22, 1997
Accepted July 22, 1998

Heart failure has become the most widely studied syndrome in cardiology over the recent years. Despite the encouraging achievements by angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, the mortality of patients with chronic heart failure remains high. There are several factors which can potentially be responsible for the fact that about 80% of patients with a failing heart defy protection by ACE inhibitors: different activation of tissue and systemic renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in a particular heart disease and the distinct ability of various ACE inhibitors to block cardiac ACE, alternative pathways for angiotensin II formation (chymase), genetic polymorphism of the RAS system and the complexity of neuroendocrine activation. Moreover, chronic heart failure can provoke disturbances in the reactivity of peripheral vessels and metabolism of striated muscles. These factors may then potentiate the vicious circle of heart failure. New therapeutic approaches, which could further reduce the mortality in patients with heart failure involve angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonists, beta-blockers, aldosterone antagonists and blockers of the endothelin receptor. A number of questions associated with functions of the RAS still remain open and their solution could be of substantial benefit for patients with a failing heart.

Key words
Heart failure - ACE inhibitors - Angiotensin II receptor antagonists - Beta-blockers - Local angiotensin II - Chymase - Neurohumoral activation

© 1999 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences