Risk Factor-induced Cardiovascular Remodeling and the Effects of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

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Cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, primarily arterial hypertension, modify the structural and functional features of the myocardium and the blood vessels, a process known as CV remodeling. Cardiac remodeling refers to changes in left ventricular (LV) geometry, such as concentric LV geometry and LV hypertrophy (LVH), an independent hallmark of CV risk. Vascular remodeling consists of structural changes of the arterial walls, such as increased intima-media thickness, arterial stiffening, and deteriorating endothelial function. CV remodeling is to a large extent a result of compensatory mechanisms, and its pathophysiology is partially mediated by the activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and its primary effector peptide angiotensin II, which together play a key role in the progression of CV disease.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, a class of drugs used in the treatment of arterial hypertension, appear to be effective in controlling or even reversing CV remodeling, independently of simple blood pressure reduction. Evidence shows that ACE inhibitors counteract CV remodeling by reducing LV mass and regressing LVH, attenuating vascular atherosclerosis and improving vascular compliance. ACE inhibitors possessing a sulfhydryl moiety appear to have additional benefits in increasing nitric-oxide release and improving vascular endothelial function.

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