Neuroendocrine activity in congestive heart failure

Gary S. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The increased neuroendocrine activity in patients with congestive heart failure appears to be a generalized attempt to maintain blood pressure at the expense of reduced cardiac performance and salt and water retention. It is likely that baroreceptor dysfunction contributes to increased sympathetic nervous system activity in patients with congestive heart failure. The usual tonic inhibitory messages emanating from baro- and mechanoreceptors in the great vessels and heart fail to adjust sympathetic traffic from the brain to the periphery, leading to uninhibited sympathetic tone. Arginine vasopressin and plasma renin activity may be increased secondarily; however, plasma renin activity activation could also be induced by a low-salt diet and diuretic use. Preliminary baseline data indicate that patients with left ventricular dysfunction (ejection fraction 3̌5%) but no or very mild symptoms of heart failure have increased plasma levels of norepinephrine, atrial natriuretic factor and arginine vasopressin, while plasma renin activity is normal, suggesting that neuroendocrine activity contributes to the pathogenesis of congestive heart failure. Neurohormones such as angiotensin II may alter gene expression, leading to changes in the shape and size of the cell. Remodeling of the heart and blood vessels is associated with both heart failure and hypertension. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors have been demonstrated to retard or reverse the remodeling process under certain experimental conditions. Studies are currently under way to test this possibility in patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)D33-D39
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2 1990
Externally publishedYes


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