Aims/hypothesis: Aldosterone antagonism improves endothelial function (and reduces deaths) in chronic heart failure. It is not known whether similar effects occur in other high-risk groups such as patients with diabetes and hypertension. We therefore assessed the full effects of aldosterone blockade in poorly controlled hypertensive patients with type 2 diabetes, focussing on blood pressure, endothelial function, glycaemic control and key hormones.
Methods: We performed a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study on 50 patients with type 2 diabetes and treated but poorly controlled hypertension, comparing spironolactone versus placebo. Patients had their endothelial function assessed by standard forearm venous occlusion plethysmography.
Results: There was no significant improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in response to acetylcholine, despite highly significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, spironolactone significantly worsened glycaemic control, plasma angiotensin II and cortisol.
Conclusions/interpretation: Spironolactone is highly effective in lowering blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes and poorly controlled hypertension on standard treatment, but does not improve vascular endothelial function in this group. We speculate that any tendency for the spironolactone-induced lowering of blood pressure to improve endothelial function is offset by its tendency to worsen glycaemic control and increase the levels of angiotensin II and even possibly cortisol.