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Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers in high vascular risk
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  • Published on:
    REACHing the wrong conclusion: residual confounding by indication
    • Jonathan A Batty, Research Fellow University of Leeds
    • Other Contributors:
      • Alistair S Hall, Professor of Cardiology

    Dear Professor Otto –

    In a recent edition of Heart, Potier et al reported the results of a large, observational analysis of the REACH registry[1]. The authors sought to retrospectively compare clinical outcomes in angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEi) treated patients, using propensity score matching to reduce confounding by indication. They conclude that treatment with ARB was more effective than with ACEi, across a wide spectrum of cardiovascular diseases and with regard to a number of different clinical outcomes. However, we believe that their methodology falls short of the standards expected from a well-conducted pharmacoepidemiological analysis[2].

    Although the REACH Registry is a well-powered cohort of patients at risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, several characteristics make it disadvantageous in the context of comparative drug efficacy analysis. Firstly, exposure to ACEi or ARB was established at baseline; all participants were prevalent users of these agents. Much evidence exists to suggest that bias is introduced by such an approach; the characteristics of prevalent users may be affected by the drug itself[3]. A new-user design would have eliminated such concerns.

    The indication for ACE inhibition and angiotensin receptor blockade differed greatly in this cohort of patients, recruited in 2003 and 2004. During this time, the evidence base for the use of ARBs was limited; most patients wo...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    Alistair S Hall has received speaker honoraria from Servier.