'Cardioprotection' by ACE inhibitors in acute myocardial ischemia and infarction?

K. Przyklenk, R. A. Kloner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Coronary artery occlusion results in the acute activation of the renin-angiotensin system and production of angiotensin II, a potent vasoconstrictor and positive inotropic agent. This has raised the possibility that angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors might be 'cardioprotective' (that is, might attenuate myocardial injury, dysfunction and necrosis) in the setting of acute ischemia and infarction. Captopril, enalapril and ramipril have, in fact, been reported to acutely limit myocardial injury and necrosis in models of permanent coronary artery occlusion. The mechanisms responsible for this cardioprotection are complex, but include favorable alterations in myocardial oxygen supply/demand, and, in some instances, inhibition of bradykinin metabolism and/or increased prostaglandin synthesis. Other studies, however, have failed to document a reduction in infarct size with ACE inhibitor treatment. Results obtained in models of coronary occlusion/reperfusion have also been mixed. In models of brief transient ischemia not associated with necrosis, captopril and zofenopril have consistently been found to attenuate postischemic contractile dysfunction of the viable but 'stunned' myocardium during the early hours following relief of ischemia. In contrast, there is no consensus on the effects of enalapril on the stunned myocardium: both positive and negative results have been obtained. Similar disparity has been reported in models of more prolonged ischemia/reperfusion resulting in subendocardial necrosis: some studies have reported myocardial salvage, while others have provided disturbing evidence of apparent exacerbation of myocardial necrosis with captopril and enalapril therapy. Thus, after a decade of investigative effort, the question of whether ACE inhibitors are 'cardioprotective' in the setting of acute myocardial ischemia and infarction remains unresolved. Nonetheless, clinical protocols are in progress to assess the effects of early ACE inhibitor treatment in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1993


  • Coronary artery occlusion
  • Coronary artery reperfusion
  • Creatine kinase
  • Myocardial contractile function
  • Myocardial infarct size


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