Safety profile of mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists: Spironolactone and eplerenone

Mitja Lainscak, Francesco Pelliccia, Giuseppe Rosano, Cristiana Vitale, Michele Schiariti, Cesare Greco, Giuseppe Speziale, Carlo Gaudio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spironolactone was first developed over 50 years ago as a potent mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist with undesirable side effects; it was followed a decade ago by eplerenone, which is less potent but much more mineralocorticoid receptor-specific. From a marginal role as a potassium-sparing diuretic, spironolactone has been shown to be an extraordinarily effective adjunctive agent in the treatment of progressive heart failure. Also, spironolactone is safe and protective in arterial hypertension, particularly in patients with so-called resistant hypertension. Eplerenone is the second oral aldosterone antagonist available for the treatment of arterial hypertension and heart failure. Treatment with eplerenone has been associated with decreased blood pressure and improved survival for patients with heart failure and reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. Due to the selectivity of eplerenone for the aldosterone receptor, severe adverse effects such as gynecomastia and vaginal bleeding seem to be less likely in patients who take eplerenone than in those who take spironolactone. The most common and potentially dangerous side effect of spironolactone - hyperkalemia - is also observed with eplerenone but the findings from clinical trials do not indicate more hyperkalemia induced drug withdrawals. Treatment with eplerenone should be initiated at a dosage of 25 mg once daily and titrated to a target dosage of 50 mg once daily preferably within 4 weeks. Serum potassium levels and renal function should be assessed prior to initiating eplerenone therapy, and periodic monitoring is recommended, especially in patients at high risk of developing hyperkalemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-29
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 23 2015


  • Aldosterone
  • Eplerenone
  • Mineralocorticoid receptors
  • Spironolactone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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