Cardiovascular disease represents a continuum that starts with risk factors such as hypertension and progresses to atherosclerosis, target organ damage, and ultimately to heart failure or stroke. Renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockade with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II type 1 receptor blockers (ARBs) has turned out to be beneficial at all stages of this continuum. Several mechanisms govern the progression of myocardial damage to end-stage chronic heart failure (CHF). Chronic neuroendocrine activation, comprising the RAS, sympathetic nervous system and the release of cytokines, leads to remodelling processes and via forward / backward failure to clinical symptoms of CHF. Therefore, combined RAS inhibition is especially effective to improve neuroendocrine blockade in CHF patients with repetitive cardiac decompensations.
Key words: angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, renin-angiotensin system, chronic heart failure, clinical trials.