Impact of early initiation of renin-angiotensin blockade on renal function and clinical outcomes in patients with hypertensive emergency: a retrospective cohort study

BMC Nephrol. 2023 Mar 22;24(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s12882-023-03117-1.


Background: Hypertensive emergency is a critical disease that causes multifaceted sequelae, including end-stage kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. Although the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAA) system is enormously activated in this disease, there are few reports that attempt to characterize the effect of early use of RAA inhibitors (RASi) on the temporal course of kidney function.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study was conducted to clarify whether the early use of RASi during hospitalization offered more favorable benefits on short-term renal function and long-term renal outcomes in patients with hypertensive emergencies. We enrolled a total of 49 patients who visited our medical center with acute severe hypertension and multiple organ dysfunction between April 2012 and August 2020. Upon admission, the patients were treated with intravenous followed by oral antihypertensive drugs, including RASi and Ca channel blockers (CCB). Kidney function as well as other laboratory and clinical parameters were compared between RASi-treated and CCB- treated group over 2 years.

Results: Antihypertensive treatment effectively reduced blood pressure from 222 ± 28/142 ± 21 to 141 ± 18/87 ± 14 mmHg at 2 weeks and eGFR was gradually restored from 33.2 ± 23.3 to 40.4 ± 22.5 mL/min/1.73m2 at 1 year. The renal effect of antihypertensive drugs was particularly conspicuous when RASi was started in combination with other conventional antihypertensive drugs at the early period of hospitalization (2nd day [IQR: 1-5.5]) and even in patients with moderately to severely diminished eGFR (< 30 mL/min/1.73 m2) on admission. In contrast, CCB modestly restored eGFR during the observation period. Furthermore, renal survival probabilities were progressively deteriorated in patients who had manifested reduced eGFR (< 15 mL/min/1.73 m2) or massive proteinuria (urine protein/creatinine ≥ 3.5 g/gCr) on admission. Early use of RASi was associated with a favorable 2-year renal survival probability (0.90 [95%CI: 0.77-1.0] vs. 0.63 [95%CI: 0.34-0.92] for RASi ( +) and RASi (-), respectively, p = 0.036) whereas no apparent difference in renal survival was noted for CCB.

Conclusions: Early use of RASi contributes to the renal functional recovery from acute reduction in eGFR among patients with hypertensive emergencies. Furthermore, RASi offers more favorable effect on 2-year renal survival, compared with CCB.

Keywords: Antihypertensive drugs; Hypertensive emergencies; Kidney; Renal survival; Renin-angiotensin system; eGFR.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Angiotensins / pharmacology
  • Angiotensins / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents* / pharmacology
  • Emergencies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / complications
  • Kidney
  • Renin
  • Renin-Angiotensin System
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Renin
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Angiotensins