Angiotensin is a potent coronary vasoconstrictor, but little is known of the effects of long-term activation of the renin-angiotensin system on coronary reserve in humans. The effects of exercise on coronary hemodynamics were determined in eight patients with mild essential uncomplicated hypertension, before and after treatment with furosemide (50 mg, to ensure activation of the renin-angiotensin system). Coronary sinus blood flow was measured by thermodilution technique, intra-arterial blood pressure was measured from the ascending aorta, and plasma renin activity was determined by radioimmunoassay. Oxygen supply and demand were derived (using coronary sinus blood flow multiplied by the arteriovenous oxygen difference to equal oxygen supply and heart rate multiplied by the mean systolic blood pressure to equal oxygen demand) both at rest and during isometric exercise (handgrip to 50 percent of maximal effort for three minutes). The study was a single-blind crossover (furosemide versus placebo) design. Furosemide produced a significant reduction in coronary sinus blood flow, associated with an increase in coronary vascular resistance. Changes in mean arterial pressure and heart rate were insignificant. Slight reductions in plasma volume and mean right atrial pressure were observed. During isometric exercise, the increase in oxygen supply for a given increment in oxygen demand was attenuated by furosemide. The contribution of the renin-angiotensin system to this effect was determined by the short-term administration of 25 mg of the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor captopril. Forty-five minutes after oral captopril, coronary reserve was restored to pretreatment values. In conclusion, furosemide modulates coronary reserve, and it is likely that this is because furosemide mediates activation of renin-angiotensin system, thus reducing the vasodilatory capacity of the coronary arteries.
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