Features July 2017 Issue

Study: Angiotensin II May Help Patients with Low Blood Pressure

Cleveland Clinic researchers found that the compound may treat patients whose arteries open wide, causing a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Angiotensin is a hormone that, when converted to angiotensin II, causes your blood vessels to contrict. This forces blood pressure to rise. Several types of blood pressure-lowering drugs are designed to block the formation of angiotensin II or interfere with its ability to narrow your arteries.

However, Cleveland Clinic researchers have found a potentially helpful use for angiotensin II. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers note that for critically ill patients, treatment with synthetic angiotensin II can help control dangerously low blood pressure. When blood pressure is too low, circulation to the organs and muscles is insufficient for their sustained health.

“Vasodilatory shock—in which a patient’s blood pressure drops and blood vessels dilate—is a serious concern for ICU patients,” says lead researcher and anesthesiologist Ashish Khanna, MD, with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Critical Care. “When the condition is not responsive to high-dose vasopressors, like norepinephrine and vasopressin, it is associated with high mortality, with more than half of these patients dying within 30 days. “We found that angiotensin II is an effective intervention for these patients, significantly increasing blood pressure in this life-threatening situation.”

The drug was well-tolerated among study participants. This study comes 60 years after Cleveland Clinic researchers first identified angiotensin II’s role in blood pressure control.

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