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The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is a critical regulator of sodium balance, extracellular fluid volume, vascular resistance, and, ultimately, arterial blood pressure. In the kidney, angiotensin II exerts its effects to conserve salt and water through a combination of the hemodynamic control of renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate and tubular epithelial cell sodium chloride and water transport mechanisms. Pharmacological inhibition of the actions of the RAS are widely used in the treatment of patients with hypertension, congestive heart failure, left ventricular dysfunction, pulmonary and systemic edema, diabetic nephropathy, cirrhosis of the liver, scleroderma, and migraines. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the influences of the RAS on normal renal physiology is of major importance for first-year medical students.
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