"We've learned more about the complex system of enzymes and hormones that regulates the cardiovascular system," Carlos Ferrario, M.D., director of the Hypertension and Vascular Disease Center and lead author of the study, reported in the on-line edition of Hypertension. "We believe this new knowledge could lead to more effective drugs with fewer side effects."
In rats, the researchers found that the drugs olmesartan and losartan helped reverse changes in the heart that can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart doesn't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. These two drugs have fewer side effects than the standard therapy currently given to humans.
After a heart attack, the damaged area of heart muscle often becomes thin and the remainder of the heart muscle becomes thick and flabby. These changes, which are known as remodeling, can lead to heart failure.
To prevent remodeling, patients are currently given drugs called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors that prevent the formation of angiotensin II, a hormone that promotes remodeling. By studying rats after heart attacks, the investigators learned more about angiotensin II information that may be used to develop more targeted medications.
The investigators studied rats with normal blood pressure. Three groups of rats had surgery to simulate a heart attack. These animals were then given either losartan, olmesartan or an inactive saline solution for 28 days. A fourth group of animals got a sham operation and no treatment.
While ACE inhibitors block the production of angiontensin II, losartan and olmesartan are both designed to block its function and have fewer side ef
Contact: Karen Richardson or Bob Conn
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center