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The Shift in the “Paradigm” of the Pharmacology of Hypertension

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Until recently elevated blood pressure was considered as a hemodynamic entity representing an increase in workload for the heart and the arterial tree. Control of hypertension meant hemodynamic unloading, through inhibition of vasoconstrictor pathways, principally renin-angiotensin system and sympathetic system. In recent years however a new pharmacological approach has evolved as a result of (i) the dissociation of endothelial dysfunction and vascular pathology from increased blood pressure; (ii) the recognition that endothelial dysfunction regards not only the vascular reactivity, but also promotes atherosclerosis and thrombosis; and (iii) an improved understanding of the complexity of local-tissue renin angiotensin system and of the vasodilatory and cytoprotective role of natriuretic peptides. This has led to a reconsideration of existing medicines in terms of specification on endothelial function, more rationalized application of drugs and search for new compounds targeting both vasodilatory and anti-proliferative pathways. Examples include β1- adrenergic antagonists, such as Nebivolol and Carvedilol, and vasopeptidase inhibitors, such as Omapatrilat, that inhibit simultaneously the angiotensin converting enzyme and neutral endopeptidase. Furthermore the identification of genetic polymorphisms in the effectors involved in the pathophysiology of hypertension or in the response to anti-hypertensive drugs, such as the p22phox subunit of NADPH oxidase, α-adducin or adrenergic receptors, has promoted the prospective of both better understanding of hypertension and individualized strategies for its treatment.
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Keywords: Carvedilol; Hypertension; Omapatrilat; anti-hypertensive; endopeptidase; vasopeptidase

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Patras, 261 10 Rio Patras, Greece.

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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