The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system: cardiorenal effects and implications for renal and cardiovascular disease states

Am J Med Sci. 2003 Jul;326(1):15-24. doi: 10.1097/00000441-200307000-00003.


The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) plays an integral role in maintaining vascular tone, optimal salt and water homeostasis, and cardiac function in humans. However, it has been recognized in recent years that pathologic consequences may also result from overactivity of the RAAS. Clinical disease states such as renal artery stenosis, hypertension, diabetic and nondiabetic nephropathies, left ventricular hypertrophy, coronary atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure (CHF) are examples. Part of the adverse cardiorenal effects of the RAAS may be related to the prominent role that this system plays in the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the dysregulation of endothelial function and progression of atherosclerosis, as well as inhibition of the fibrinolytic system. Also, direct profibrotic actions of angiotensin II and aldosterone in the kidney and heart promote end organ injury. Current basic science and clinical research supports the use of inhibitors of the RAAS, including angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and aldosterone antagonists in treating hypertension, improving diabetic nephropathy and other forms of chronic kidney disease, preventing or ameliorating CHF, and optimizing prognosis after myocardial infarction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology*