Drug Therapy: ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors lower the levels of two hormones (angiotensin II and aldosterone) that help increase blood pressure. ACE inhibitors cause arteries and veins to widen and helps the kidneys eliminate excess water. Both of these actions lower the blood pressure, allow more oxygen to reach the heart and reduce the amount of work the heart has to do.

ACE inhibitors are used to treat congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. They may be recommended for those who have had a heart attack because some studies have shown that these drugs help prevent more damage to the heart muscle. These drugs may also be prescribed for those with certain types of kidney disorders, especially diabetes. ACE inhibitors not only reduce symptoms, they can also reduce the need for hospitalization and can help prolong life. They also may have direct beneficial effects on the heart and blood vessel walls. These drugs are most helpful for people who:

  • Develop a problem with sexual function when taking another antihypertensive drug
  • Are Caucasian
  • Are young
  • Have coronary artery disease or heart failure
  • Have chronic kidney disease or diabetic kidney disease
If these medications are prescribed, the doctor should be made aware of any other drug, vitamin, mineral or herbal supplement the patient is taking, especially diuretics or drugs or supplements that contain potassium. Patients should not drink alcohol while taking these drugs without talking to the doctor first. Alcohol combined with ACE inhibitors can make the blood pressure lower than it should be, causing dizziness or faintness.

To learn more about these types of drugs and their side effects, click on the links below: