Acute and long-term effects of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, enalapril, on adrenergic activity and sensitivity during exercise in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction
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Patients with heart failure and left ventricular systolic dysfunction exhibit increased adrenergic activity but blunted adrenergic responsiveness. We studied patients enrolled in the Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction, examining exercise responses of heart rate (HR) and plasma norepinephrine (PNE). Eighty-seven patients were studied before randomization; 65 of these were examined 1 year after randomization to placebo or enalapril. Compared with prevention trial (asymptomatic) patients, patients in the treatment trial (symptomatic) had higher resting HR and PNE levels and less increase in HR with a greater increase in PNE with exercise. Acute administration of enalapril increased the resting HR in patients in the prevention trial only but had no significant effect on PNE. After 1 year of therapy, patients in the prevention trial exhibited no change. Within the treatment trial, the placebo group displayed both a higher peak PNE and increase in PNE with exercise than did the enalapril group, whose HR response was maintained in spite of a reduction of exercise PNE. We conclude that (1) compared with asymptomatic patients, symptomatic patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction manifest greater resting and exercise adrenergic activity, with blunted HR response; and (2) in symptomatic patients, 1 year of enalapril treatment effected an augmented HR response to adrenergic stimulation, supporting an interaction between the renin/angiotensin and adrenergic nervous systems. Normalization of adrenergic tone and response likely contributes to the benefits of long-term angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy.
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