ACE Inhibitors

ACE stands for angiotensin converting enzyme. The ACE inhibitors inhibit this chemical and the resulting effect is to reduce levels of angiotensin. As you may deduce from the name 'angio' (referring to vessel) and tensin which sounds like tension the chemical is a powerful cause of blood vessel contraction. By limiting its effect, these drugs cause blood vessels relax and the blood pressure drops.

There are many members of this class, however there is little difference between them. They are also often used to treat patients with heart failure, and after a heart attack. They have a protective effect on the kidneys and are good for patients with diabetes and of black race.

ACE inhibitors can cause a dry cough which may be irritating enough to cause a change of treatment. Allergic skin rashes can also occur occasionally and another side effect which is very rare, though a bit more common in black people is an allergic reaction called angioedema. It occurs more often smokers as well.

Blood levels of potassium can become elevated, especially in patients with reduced kidney function and those taking potassium supplements, so blood tests will be advised by your doctor to keep an eye on this.

This class of drugs is very effective and they are usually well tolerated and used in most types of patients.

Examples: Enalapril, Lisinopril.

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This page was last modified on : May 16, 2011.