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Review Article

Can Angiotensin-converting Enzyme Inhibitors Reverse Atherosclerosis?

John P. Higgins, MD, MPhil
Volume: 96 Issue: 6 June, 2003

Abstract:

Angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor, is mainly present in the vascular endothelium. Multiple studies have confirmed that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which block the formation of angiotensin II, lower blood pressure and also improve heart failure. These agents not only have beneficial hemodynamic effects but also bestow additional benefits on vascular function and prevent clinical cardiovascular events in patients at risk for coronary artery disease. These latter benefits may represent effects of ACE inhibitors on local endocrine pathways, inflammatory processes, and atherosclerosis taking place within the arterial wall. Current evidence suggests that, although ACE inhibitors may not substantially reverse atherosclerotic plaque already present, they may slow the progression of such atherosclerotic lesions. In addition, by modulating inflammatory pathways within and adjacent to the atherosclerotic lesion, they may stabilize an unstable plaque and therefore decrease the risk of plaque rupture and its complications.

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It's the age-old struggle—the roar of the crowd on one side And the voice of your conscience on the other. - —General Douglas MacArthur

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