Snake venoms, as complex mixtures of peptides and proteins, affect various vital systems of the organism. One of the main targets of the toxic components from snake venoms is the cardiovascular system. Venom proteins and peptides can act in different ways, exhibiting either cardiotoxic or cardioprotective effects. The principal classes of these compounds are cobra cardiotoxins, phospholipases A2, and natriuretic, as well as bradykinin-potentiating peptides. There is another group of proteins capable of enhancing angiogenesis, which include, e.g., vascular endothelial growth factors possessing hypotensive and cardioprotective activities. Venom proteins and peptides exhibiting cardiotropic and vasoactive effects are promising candidates for the design of new drugs capable of preventing or constricting the development of pathological processes in cardiovascular diseases, which are currently the leading cause of death worldwide. For example, a bradykinin-potentiating peptide from Bothrops jararaca snake venom was the first snake venom compound used to create the widely used antihypertensive drugs captopril and enalapril. In this paper, we review the current state of research on snake venom components affecting the cardiovascular system and analyse the mechanisms of physiological action of these toxins and the prospects for their medical application.

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