Angiotensin II antagonism is associated with reduced risk for gastrointestinal bleeding caused by arteriovenous malformations in patients with left ventricular assist devices

J Heart Lung Transplant. 2017 Apr;36(4):380-385. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2016.12.016. Epub 2016 Dec 30.


Background: Angiogenesis is implicated in formation of gastrointestinal arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Angiotensin II signaling is involved in angiogenesis through the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-2 pathways. We hypothesized that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) and angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) therapy would be associated with a reduced risk of all-cause gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) and AVM-associated GIB in patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs).

Methods: We reviewed records of all adult patients receiving a continuous-flow LVAD (HeartMate II or HeartWare HVAD) at Johns Hopkins Hospital between January 2004 and December 2014. Of 192 patients, 131 were included for final analyses. Logistic regression analysis adjusting for demographic, cardiovascular, and laboratory variables was used to assess the association of ACEI or ARB therapy with GIB.

Results: Of 131 patients, 100 received ACEI or ARB therapy during LVAD support. Of the 31 patients who did not receive ACEI or ARB, 15 experienced GIB (48%), with 9 caused by AVMs (29%). Of 100 patients who received ACEI or ARB therapy, 24 experienced GIB (24%), with 9 caused by AVMs (9%). Logistic regression hazards model demonstrated that ACEI or ARB therapy was independently associated with a reduced risk for all-cause GIB (odds ratio 0.29, 95% confidence interval 0.12-0.72) and AVM-related GIB (odds ratio 0.23, 95% confidence interval 0.07-0.71).

Conclusions: Angiotensin II antagonism is associated with a reduced risk of AVM-related GIB in patients with LVADs. This association is independent of age, sex, blood pressure, renal function, international normalized ratio, LVAD type, and cardiomyopathy etiology.

Keywords: ACE inhibitor; ARB; Arteriovenous malformations; GI bleed; LVAD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / complications*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors