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Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEIs), Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonists (ARBs), or Direct Renin Inhibitors (DRI) for Adults With Hypertension

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Background: Drugs Targeting The Renin System May Not Be Clinically Equivalent

Although ACEIs and ARBs both target the renin system and are treated by clinicians as being equivalent, this may not be appropriate. While both drug classes reduce the downstream effects of angiotensin II, it is not clear that these medications are in fact clinically equivalent. ACEIs, for example, do not entirely block production of angiotensin II because of the presence of unaffected converting enzymes. Also, ACEIs have well-known side effects not shared by ARBs, including cough (estimated incidence 5 to 20 percent) and angioedema (estimated incidence 0.1 to 0.2 percent, with a lesser reported risk with ARBs). Additional considerations arise with the newer DRI aliskiren, because its side-effect profile and efficacy may differ significantly from ACEIs or ARBs. Given the public health importance and widespread use of these agents, it is important to understand their comparative effects on clinical outcomes.