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Aldosterone and aldosterone receptor antagonists in patients with chronic heart failure

Authors Nappi J, Sieg A

Published 8 June 2011 Volume 2011:7 Pages 353—363


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Jean M Nappi, Adam Sieg
Clinical Pharmacy and Outcome Sciences, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Medical University of South Carolina Campus, Charleston, SC, USA

Abstract: Aldosterone is a mineralocorticoid hormone synthesized by the adrenal glands that has several regulatory functions to help the body maintain normal volume status and electrolyte balance. Studies have shown significantly higher levels of aldosterone secretion in patients with congestive heart failure compared with normal patients. Elevated levels of aldosterone have been shown to elevate blood pressure, cause left ventricular hypertrophy, and promote cardiac fibrosis. An appreciation of the true role of aldosterone in patients with chronic heart failure did not become apparent until the publication of the Randomized Aldactone Evaluation Study. Until recently, the use of aldosterone receptor antagonists has been limited to patients with severe heart failure and patients with heart failure following myocardial infarction. The Eplerenone in Mild Patients Hospitalization and Survival Study in Heart Failure (EMPHASIS-HF) study added additional evidence to support the expanded use of aldosterone receptor antagonists in heart failure patients. The results of the EMPHASIS-HF trial showed that patients with mild-to-moderate (New York Heart Association Class II) heart failure had reductions in mortality and hospitalizations from the addition of eplerenone to optimal medical therapy. Evidence remains elusive about the exact mechanism by which aldosterone receptor antagonists improve heart failure morbidity and mortality. The benefits of aldosterone receptor antagonist use in heart failure must be weighed against the potential risk of complications, ie, hyperkalemia and, in the case of spironolactone, possible endocrine abnormalities, in particular gynecomastia. With appropriate monitoring, these risks can be minimized. We now have evidence that patients with mild-to-severe symptoms associated with systolic heart failure will benefit from the addition of an aldosterone receptor antagonist to the standard therapies of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta-blockers. This review will address the pharmacologic basis of aldosterone receptor antagonists in patients with heart failure and the clinical impact of this therapy.

Keywords: aldosterone receptor antagonists, eplerenone, spironolactone, systolic heart failure

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