The hemodynamic effects of oral captopril and intravenous nitroprusside were compared in 15 patients with severe chronic congestive heart failure. At doses of both drugs titrated so as to produce similar decreases in systemic vascular resistance in each patient, nitroprusside produced substantially greater increases in cardiac index (+0.67 versus +0.31 liters/min/m2, p <0.01) but smaller decreases in mean arterial pressure (-18.4 versus -11.0 mm Hg, p <0.01) than did captopril. This finding was due to a significant decrease in heart rate with captopril (-7 beats/min, p <0.01) which was not seen with nitroprusside, since changes in stroke volume index with both drugs were similar. Nitroprusside produced a decrease in pulmonary arteriolar resistance quantitatively similar to the decrease in systemic vascular resistance, but the decrease in pulmonary arteriolar resistance with captopril was not significant. Despite similar decreases in systemic resistance, captopril produced a greater decrease in left ventricular filling pressure (-10.2 versus -6.9 mm Hg, p <0.01) but a smaller decrease in mean right atrial pressure (-3.1 versus -5.3 mm Hg, p <0.01) than did nitroprusside. Thus, captopril has actions independent of its systemic vasodilator effects which account for the quantitative differences observed in its hemodynamic responses compared with those of nitroprusside in patients with severe chronic heart failure. These differences support experimental evidence that angiotensin, in addition to its direct systemic arterial vasoconstrictor actions, exerts positive chronotropic effects and alters ventricular compliance but has minimal direct effects on the limb venous circulation and on the pulmonary vasculature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine