Background: A recent clinical trial showed harmful renal effects with the combined use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) and angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARB) in people with diabetes or vascular disease. We examined the benefits and risks of these agents in people with albuminuria and one or more cardiovascular risk factors.
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE and Renal Health Library were searched for trials comparing ACEI, ARB or their combination with placebo or with one another in people with albuminuria and one or more cardiovascular risk factor.
Results: Eighty-five trials (21,708 patients) were included. There was no significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality or fatal cardiac-cerebrovascular outcomes with ACEI versus placebo, ARB versus placebo, ACEI versus ARB or with combined therapy with ACEI + ARB versus monotherapy. There was a significant reduction in the risk of nonfatal cardiovascular events with ACEI versus placebo but not with ARB versus placebo, ACEI versus ARB or with combined therapy with ACEI + ARB versus monotherapy. Development of end-stage kidney disease and progression of microalbuminuria to macroalbuminuria were reduced significantly with ACEI versus placebo and ARB versus placebo but not with combined therapy with ACEI + ARB versus monotherapy.
Conclusions: ACEI and ARB exert independent renal and nonfatal cardiovascular benefits while their effects on mortality and fatal cardiovascular disease are uncertain. There is a lack of evidence to support the use of combination therapy. A comparative clinical trial with ACE, ARB and its combination in people with albuminuria and a cardiovascular risk factor is warranted.