Angiotensin is the common name of four hormones: angiotensin I-IV, which play an important role in the body’s overall health and blood pressure regulation, specifically. Learning how angiotensin functions will help you better understand your health.
Angiotensin consists of a group of hormones that are part of the renin-angiotensin system. To create angiotensin, the liver first creates a protein called angiotensinogen. This protein is broken up by renin, which comes from the kidney. This forms angiotensin I. Angiotensin I passes through the bloodstream, where it turns into angiotensin II, which is the primary form of the hormone that affects blood pressure and other areas of the body.
How Does Angiotensin Work?
Angiotensin, specifically angiotensin II, binds to many receptors in the body to affect several systems. It can increase blood pressure by constricting the blood vessels. It can also trigger thirst or the desire for salt. Angiotensin is responsible for the release of the pituitary gland’s anti-diuretic hormone.
In the adrenal glands, angiotensin stimulates aldosterone production. This hormone causes the body to retain sodium. In the kidneys, sodium retention triggered by angiotensin changes the way the blood is filtered, causing increased water re-absorption to increase the volume of blood. This, again, increases blood pressure.
While angiotensin has a complex series of effects on the body, the primary results are higher blood volume, blood pressure and sodium content.
Potential problems with angiotensin
People can struggle with angiotensin in one of two ways:
Too much angiotensin can cause the body to retain too much fluid or to have elevated blood pressure levels not caused by other problems. High angiotensin levels can also cause the heart to grow, leading to heart failure. Angiotensin blockers can help in these situations by blocking the receptor sites that take up angiotensin, but this can lead to too much potassium retention. Working with an endocrinologist is important to ensure the body remains healthy while balancing angiotensin levels.
Low angiotensin levels can also be problematic. Angiotensin deficiency can prevent the regulation of blood volume and pressure, increase retention of potassium, and lead to a loss of sodium and more urine output, as the body releases needed fluid. This causes a lower blood pressure.
Questions to ask your doctor
Angiotensin is essential to regulating blood pressure. If you are struggling with maintaining a healthy blood pressure, consider asking your doctor:
If you are not working with an endocrinologist to help manage angiotensin levels, you need to find one in your area. An endocrinologist has the knowledge and understanding to help keep angiotensin levels healthy. To take the next step, find a specialist near you.
The Hormone Health Network is the public education affiliate of the Endocrine Society dedicated to helping both patients and doctors find information on the prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions.
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