Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

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Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, commonly called ACE Inhibitors, belong to a class of drugs used to control high blood pressure, prevent strokes, and prevent kidney damage in those with high blood pressure or diabetes. They may be used after experiencing a heart attack or for migraines or scleroderma. They work by inhibiting an enzyme that is part of the blood pressure regulating system of the body and thus reduce the tension of the blood vessels.

ACE inhibitors often make the patient develop a dry cough and is a common side effect. They may cause potassium retention, lithium retention, low blood pressure, headaches, easy bruising, photosensitivity, weakness, nausea, drowsiness, rash or a metallic or salty taste in the mouth. Rare side effects may include swelling, kidney failure and allergic reactions. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin may decrease the action of ACE inhibitors. Pregnant or nursing women or those planning a pregnancy should not take these drugs. People taking ACE inhibitors should rise slowly from a seated position to avoid dizziness and also avoid potassium supplements and salt substitutes.

Lisinopril, and Enalapril, are examples of this drug class. The main difference in ACE inhibitors is how they are excreted from the body. Some are eliminated through the kidneys and others through bile or feces. It is important for your doctor to understand your complete health history to understand which ACE inhibitor is best for you so that it won’t interfere with kidney or liver function. Your doctor may want to monitor your white blood cell count while taking this medication. ACE inhibitors are usually taken orally although some medications are available in intravenous forms. The lowest dose necessary should be given first. Blood pressure may be lowered to a dangerous level if alcohol is also consumed along with this drug.

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