Mechanisms and implications of endothelial dysfunction in congestive heart failure

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The pathogenesis of heart failure is determined by the ventricular and vascular responses to myocellular injury. Experimental and clinical studies suggest that the vascular endothelium may play an important role in modulating progression of ventricular and vascular remodeling in heart failure. Endothelial cell dysfunction has been described in the coronary and skeletal muscle circulations of patients with heart failure and appears to be characterized by decreased endothelial synthesis of nitric oxide and increased production of endothelin-1. The pathogenesis of endothelial dysfunction in heart failure is unknown, but may be related to increased oxidative stress, abnormal regional flow conditions, and cytokine and neurohormonal activation. The specific role of endothelial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of heart failure remains to be determined. If endothelial dysfunction does contribute to progression of disease in early heart failure, specific therapies to enhance endothelial dysfunction may improve long-term morbidity and mortality.

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