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Blood Pressure Drugs - Page 2

ACE Inhibitors

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

(check with manufacturer for specific information)

Commonly prescribed brands:













How they are given:

  • Oral (tablet, capsule, liquid) or IV

What they are used for:

You should not be treated with them if:

  • You have a history of swelling beneath the skin ( angioedema) related to previous treatment with ACE inhibitor or of hereditary or unknown origin

Possible side effects:

  • Dry hacking cough, dizziness, weakness


  • ACE inhibitors should not be taken during pregnancy or nursing as they are harmful and even fatal to the fetus or baby

How do ACE inhibitors work?
Angiotensin converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors widen blood vessels by blocking the production of angiotensin II, a chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow. The result is that blood requires less force (pressure) to flow through the vessels and the heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

Who should take ACE inhibitors?
ACE inhibitors are often the first choice drugs for treating patients with high blood pressure who also have heart failure or diabetes. This is because ACE inhibitors have other beneficial effects (besides just lowering blood pressure). They can slow the progression of kidney disease in people with high blood pressure and Type 1 diabetes ( insulin-dependent). They may also be used after a heart attack or bypass surgery, or to treat diabetes or kidney disease.

What side effects do ACE inhibitors have?
A dry cough is the most common side effect. It occurs in about 12% of patients and is more common in women than men.4 It is usually not serious, but if it bothers you, your doctor may switch you to another type of medication. The cough goes away almost immediately after you stop taking the ACE inhibitor (talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medication). If you are taking ACE inhibitors, you need to drink plenty of fluids when outside in hot weather or when exercising, since you are more likely to have side effects if you are dehydrated.
The first time you take ACE inhibitors, your blood pressure may drop quickly, and you may feel dizzy or faint. This is known as a “first dose effect.” You may be instructed to take your first dose just before going to sleep so you do not feel its effects.

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