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Combination renin-angiotensin system blockade with the renin inhibitor aliskiren in hypertension.

Combining an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I) and angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) lowers blood pressure (BP) by 4/3 mmHg compared to either agent alone, although this additive effect may be abolished with maximal monotherapy dosing. The recent ONTARGET study showed no reduction in primary outcomes when an ACE-I-ARB combination was compared to an ACE-I alone, despite 2.4/1.4 mmHg lower BP in the former group. In proteinuric chronic kidney disease, an ACE-I-ARB combination reduces proteinuria and disease progression more than monotherapy, but the ONTARGET study showed an increase in renal endpoints in the combined group. Aliskiren offers a novel approach to renin-angiotensin system (RAS) inhibition. As monotherapy in hypertension, aliskiren is of similar efficacy to thiazides, calcium channel blockers and ARBs. In combination with other RAS inhibitors at maximal dosage aliskiren has a small synergistic effect on BP (additional 4/2 mmHg reduction). Early data suggest a role for aliskiren in preventing end-organ damage but, considering the ONTARGET results with an ACE-I-ARB combination, outcome studies are needed before the use of aliskiren can be recommended in combination with other RAS inhibitors. As monotherapy, aliskiren should probably be reserved for use as an alternative to ACE-Is or ARBs, where these are ineffective or poorly tolerated.

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