Optimal vascular protection: a case for combination antihypertensive therapy.

Prev Cardiol. 2006 Winter;9(1):35-41.  

Vogel RA.
University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. rvogel@heart.umaryland.edu 

Endothelial dysfunction is an important factor in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and heart failure. The endothelium mediates vascular tone, structure, and function by the release and regulation of multiple vasoactive substances that promote or inhibit vasodilation, vasoconstriction, cell growth, and other mechanisms. The effect of antihypertensive drugs on endothelial function may be an important indicator of their ability to reduce risks for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation induced by various antihypertensive drugs is accurately measured with high-resolution ultrasound of flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery. Calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors have been shown to reverse endothelial dysfunction. The benefits of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and calcium channel blockers on the endothelium are believed to derive from their effects on nitric oxide production and antioxidant effects, possibly independent of blood pressure reduction. Due to their complementary mechanisms of action, it has been hypothesized that the combination of an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and a calcium channel blocker will provide superior cardiovascular protection, in part by producing an additive effect of increased nitric oxide availability, when compared with either agent alone.