Angiotensin receptor blockers in heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
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OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the effect of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) on mortality and hospitalization in patients with heart failure (HF). BACKGROUND: There is uncertainty regarding the efficacy of ARBs as substitute or adjunctive therapy to angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) in the treatment of HF. METHODS: We conducted a meta-analysis of all randomized controlled trials that compared ARBs with either placebo or ACEIs in patients with symptomatic HF. The pooled outcomes were all-cause mortality and hospitalization for HF. RESULTS: Seventeen trials involving 12,469 patients were included. Overall, ARBs were not superior to controls in the pooled rates of death (odds ratio: 0.96; 95% confidence interval: 0.75 to 1.23) or hospitalization (0.86; 0.69 to 1.06). Stratified analysis, however, showed a non-significant trend in benefit of ARBs over placebo in reducing mortality (0.68; 0.38 to 1.22) and hospitalization (0.67; 0.29 to 1.51) when given in the absence of background ACEI therapy. When compared directly with ACEIs, ARBs were not superior in reducing either mortality (1.09; 0.92 to 1.29) or hospitalization (0.95; 0.80 to 1.13). In contrast, the combination therapy of ARBs and ACEIs was superior to ACEIs alone in reducing hospitalization (0.74; 0.64 to 0.86) but not mortality (1.04; 0.91 to 1.20). CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis cannot confirm that ARBs are superior in reducing all-cause mortality or HF hospitalization in patients with symptomatic HF, particularly when compared with ACEIs. However, the use of ARBs as monotherapy in the absence of ACEIs or as combination therapy with ACEIs appears promising.
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