OBJECTIVE--To examine the relation between haemodynamics and atrial natriuretic peptide concentration during short term angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition. DESIGN--Patients were randomly allocated to receive placebo or one of three doses of the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor ramipril. SETTING--Cardiac units of two tertiary referral hospitals. SUBJECTS--38 Patients with stable congestive heart failure caused by ischaemic heart disease. METHODS--Data were collected over a 24 hour period and assessed with the aim of distinguishing between the haemodynamic effects on plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide and the direct effects of the study drug, vasopressin concentrations, and angiotensin converting enzyme activity. RESULTS--Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure was the main predictor of the plasma concentration of atrial natriuretic peptide. A higher plasma concentration of this peptide with a given pulmonary capillary wedge pressure was found after 24 hours of treatment with 2.5 mg and 5 mg of ramipril. Plasma concentration of the active metabolite, change in arginine vasopressin concentration or degree of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition did not significantly predict change in plasma concentration of atrial natriuretic peptide or in the ratio of atrial natriuretic peptide concentration to pulmonary capillary wedge pressure. CONCLUSIONS--A gradual increase in plasma concentration of atrial natriuretic peptide with a given pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, occurs during short term high degree inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme. The causative mechanisms are yet to be identified. Such a change in the relation between central haemodynamics and atrial natriuretic peptide concentration may contribute to the beneficial effects of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition in patients with congestive heart failure due to ischaemic heart disease.
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