COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Comparison of the effects of losartan and enalapril on clinical status and exercise performance in patients with moderate or severe chronic heart failure

K Dickstein, P Chang, R Willenheimer, S Haunsø, J Remes, C Hall, J Kjekshus
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 1995, 26 (2): 438-45
7608448

OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the feasibility of an efficacy trial comparing angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition and angiotensin II receptor antagonism in heart failure. Patients with moderate or severe heart failure whose condition had previously been stabilized by treatment with a converting enzyme inhibitor were randomly assigned to receive enalapril or losartan. The study was designed to detect any signs of clinical deterioration during double-blind treatment.

BACKGROUND: Losartan is a specific, nonpeptide angiotensin II receptor-1 antagonist with a vasodilator hemodynamic profile similar to that of converting enzyme inhibitors. Although therapy with specific receptor blockade has certain theoretic advantages over nonspecific converting enzyme inhibition, demonstration of a comparable therapeutic effect in patients with congestive heart failure will require a major effort comparing two active agents.

METHODS: One hundred sixty-six patients with stable heart failure in New York Heart Association functional class III or IV and an ejection fraction < or = 35% were included in a multicenter, double-blind, parallel, enalapril-controlled trial. After a 3-week stabilization period with optimal therapy, including digitalis, diuretic drugs and a converting enzyme inhibitor, patients were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of therapy with losartan, 25 mg/day (n = 52); losartan, 50 mg/day (n = 56); or enalapril, 20 mg/day (n = 58). Patients were assessed with frequent clinical and laboratory evaluation and exercise testing.

RESULTS: No significant differences between groups in terms of changes in exercise capacity (6-min walk test), clinical status (dyspnea-fatigue index), neurohumoral activation (norepinephrine, N-terminal atrial natriuretic factor), laboratory evaluation or incidence of adverse experience were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that losartan and enalapril are of comparable efficacy and tolerability in the short-term treatment of moderate or severe congestive heart failure. A trial designed to compare the efficacy, tolerability and effect on mortality of long-term angiotensin II receptor blockade with converting enzyme inhibition is both feasible and ethically responsible.

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