Effects of losartan and atenolol on left ventricular mass and neurohormonal profile in patients with essential hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy

Björn Dahlof, Alberto Zanchetti, Javier Diez, M Gary Nicholls, Cheuk-Man Yu, Vivencio Barrios, Peter Aurup, Ronald D Smith, Magnus Johansson
Journal of Hypertension 2002, 20 (9): 1855-64

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of the angiotensin II antagonist, losartan, with those of atenolol on left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), blood pressure and neurohormone concentrations in hypertensive patients with LVH.

DESIGN: A multinational, randomized, double-blind trial.

SETTING: Hospital.

PATIENTS: Hypertensive patients with an echocardiographically documented left ventricular mass index (LVMI) 120 g/m(2) (men) or 105 g/m(2) (women).

INTERVENTIONS: Patients allocated randomly to groups received either losartan or atenolol 50 mg/day for 36 weeks, with possible titration to 100 mg/day, and addition of hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 or 25 mg/day.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in LVMI and sitting systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressures after 36 weeks of treatment (study powered for non-inferiority hypothesis). All echocardiographic data were read in a central laboratory by staff blinded to the treatments and sequence of echocardiographic tapes.

RESULTS: The estimated treatment difference between the losartan and atenolol regimens (mean change from baseline at week 36) in LVMI was -2.5 g/m(2) [95% confidence interval (CI) -7.36 to 2.37 g/m(2) ] in favor of losartan, indicating that losartan was significantly non-inferior ( 0.001, non-inferiority limit 8 g/m(2) ) and numerically superior to atenolol in reducing LVMI. The losartan-based regimen significantly reduced LVMI after 36 weeks compared with baseline (-6.56 g/m(2) , 95% CI -10.24 to -2.88 g/m(2) , P<0.001), whereas the atenolol-based regimen had no significant effect (-3.71 g/m, 95% CI -7.75 to 0.32 g/m(2) , P= NS). In a subset of 82 patients, significant changes in serum concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide, brain natriuretic peptide and immunoreactive amino-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide were recorded in losartan-treated ( 0.01) but not atenolol-treated patients. Losartan and atenolol significantly decreased SBP and DBP from baseline after 6, 12, 24 and 36 weeks. The changes from baseline in DBP were greater in the atenolol group at weeks 6 and 36 [difference -2.6 mmHg ( P= 0.016) at week 36]. However, both treatment regimens achieved similar SBP/DBP values at week 36 (141.1 +/- 12.8/86.8 +/- 8.2 mmHg for losartan and 141.4 +/- 17.2/85.0 +/- 10.1 mmHg for atenolol, respectively). Overall, losartan treatment was associated with significantly fewer drug-related clinical adverse events, compared with atenolol (10 and 22%, respectively, P= 0.028).

CONCLUSIONS: Both losartan- and atenolol-based regimens effectively decreased blood pressure. Losartan was non-inferior and numerically superior to atenolol in regression of LVH. The reduction in hypertrophy with losartan treatment was accompanied by reductions in circulating concentrations of cardiac natriuretic peptides. Losartan, by specifically blocking angiotensin II, may therefore have effects on the heart beyond those expected from the decrease in blood pressure alone. Losartan was better tolerated than atenolol.

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