Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors for Coronary Artery DiseaseSkip to the navigation
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How It Works
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors interfere with the formation of a hormone (angiotensin II) that can narrow (constrict) blood vessels. ACE inhibitors help lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart, which lowers the chances of heart attack.
Why It Is Used
ACE inhibitors are recommended for people who have coronary artery disease, particularly those who also have diabetes. They may lower your risk for a future heart attack or heart failure. These drugs frequently are also used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
How Well It Works
ACE inhibitors help lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart, which lowers the chances of a heart attack. They also help people who have heart failure to live longer. And they slow the development of kidney failure in people who have diabetes.footnote 1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Irregular heartbeats (this could be caused by too much potassium in your blood).
- Dizziness or lightheadedness or fainting.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Dry cough.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
ACE inhibitor cough
A cough is one of the most common side effects of ACE inhibitors. But most people do not get a cough. The cough tends to be a minor problem for most people who have it. They feel that they can live with it in exchange for the benefits of this medicine.
If you take an ACE inhibitor and have a problem with coughing, talk with your doctor. Your cough may be caused by something else, like a cold. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
If you have a cough that is a problem for you, then your doctor might give you an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) instead. ARBs are less likely to cause a cough.
Interactions with other medicines
ACE inhibitors may interact with other medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antacids, potassium supplements, certain diuretics, and lithium. If you are taking one of these medicines, talk with your doctor before you take an ACE inhibitor.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
You will likely have regular blood tests to monitor how the medicine is working in your body and to see if this medicine is causing problems.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Current as of: October 5, 2017
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