The Renin-Angiotensin System and Blood Pressure Control

The renin-angiotensin system or RAS regulates blood pressure and fluid balance in the body. When blood volume or sodium levels in the body are low, or blood potassium is high, cells in the kidney release the enzyme, renin. Renin converts angiotensinogen, which is produced in the liver, to the hormone angiotensin I. An enzyme known as ACE or angiotensin-converting enzyme found in the lungs metabolizes angiotensin I into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to increase. Angiotensin II stimulates the release of the hormone aldosterone in the adrenal glands, which causes the renal tubules to retain sodium and water and excrete potassium. Together, angiotensin II and aldosterone work to raise blood volume, blood pressure and sodium levels in the blood to restore the balance of sodium, potassium, and fluids. If the renin-angiotensin system becomes overactive, consistently high blood pressure results.

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