Current cardiovascular pharmacotherapy targets maladaptive overactivation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), which occurs throughout the continuum of cardiovascular disease spanning from hypertension to heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Over the past 16 years, 4 prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials using candesartan, perindopril, irbesartan, and spironolactone in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) failed to demonstrate increased efficacy of RAAS blockade added to guideline-directed medical therapy. We reappraise these trials and their weaknesses, which precluded statistically significant findings. Recently, dual-acting RAAS blockade with sacubitril-valsartan relative to stand-alone valsartan failed to improve outcome in the PARAGON-HF trial (Efficacy and Safety of LCZ696 Compared with Valsartan, on Morbidity and Mortality in Heart Failure Patients With Preserved Ejection Fraction). The majority of patients with HFpEF experience hypertension, frequently with subclinical left ventricular dysfunction, contributed to by comorbidities such as coronary disease, diabetes mellitus, overweight, and atrial fibrillation. Contrasting the findings in HFpEF, trials evaluating RAAS blockade on either side of HFpEF on the cardiovascular continuum in patients with high-risk hypertension and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, respectively, showed positive outcomes. We do not have a biologically plausible explanation for such divergent efficacy of RAAS blockade. Based on considerations of well-established clinical efficacy in hypertension and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction and the shortcomings of aforementioned clinical trials in HFpEF, we argue that RAAS blockers including MRAs (mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists; aldosterone antagonists) should be used in the treatment of patients with HFpEF.
- cardiovascular diseases
- heart failure