Drug Treatments: ACE Inhibitors  

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme or "ACE" inhibitors have successfully treated all types of high blood pressure. Many brands are available that are similar in safety and effectiveness.

ACE inhibitors include:

  • captopril (Capoten)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • quinapril (Accupril)
  • benazepril (Lotensin)
  • lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • ramipril (Altace)
  • perindopril (Aceon)

ACE inhibitors are often recommended as first-line treatment for people with diabetes and kidney damage, for some heart attack survivors, and for patients with heart failure, particularly when taken with diuretics. They can also improve a person's odds of surviving a heart attack.

Side effects

Side effects are uncommon but may include:

  • Irritating cough.
  • Excessive drops in blood pressure.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Although ACE inhibitors can protect against kidney disease, they also cause the kidneys to retain potassium, which can result in arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) or even cardiac arrest if levels become too high. Because of this, they are not generally given with potassium-sparing diuretics or potassium supplements.
  • One rare but severe side effect -- granulocytopenia -- has been observed, which is an extreme reduction in white blood cells.

Always tell your physician about all of the medications you are taking to make sure there are no potential risks. This includes over-the-counter medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) which may have harmful interactions with ACE inhibitors.


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Review Date: June 3, 2003

Reviewed By: Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.


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