Effects of antihypertensive drugs on carotid intima-media thickness: Focus on angiotensin II receptor blockers. A review of randomized, controlled trials
Cesare Cuspidi1,2, Francesca Negri1,2, Valentina Giudici2, Anna Capra1, Carla Sala3
1Department of Clinical Medicine and Prevention, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano; 2Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milano; 3Thoraco-Pulmonary and Cardiocirculatory Department, University of Milano, Fondazione Policlinico di Milano, Italy
Abstract: Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaques have been shown to have a strong continuous relationship with cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality; therefore, carotid atherosclerosis, as assessed by ultrasonography, can be regarded as a reliable surrogate end-point for therapeutic interventions. In this survey, we report the results of 16 double blind, randomized, controlled studies comparing: 1) antihypertensive drugs versus placebo/no treatment (five trials including 3,215 patients); 2) different active antihypertensive drug regimens (five trials including 4,662 patients); 3) angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARBs) versus other antihypertensive agents (six trials including 841 patients). Our main findings can be summarized as follows: I) Long-term antihypertensive treatment has a blunting effect on carotid IMT progression, regardless of types of drugs. II) Calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) are more effective than other antihypertensive drugs including diuretics, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors in this blunting effect; III) the effect of ARBs compared to other antihypertensive regimens (mostly based on atenolol) on carotid atherosclerosis progression needs to be further elucidated, as a protective effect was demonstrated by some, but not all studies examined. Thus, further studies are needed to clarify the role of ARBs in this therapeutic area.
Keywords: ultrasonography, carotid atherosclerosis, antihypertensive drugs, angiotensin II receptor blockers
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