ACE Inhibitors: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors lower blood pressure. They also treat heart failure and prevent heart attacks and strokes. They block an enzyme that makes blood vessels narrow. As a result, the blood vessels relax and widen. This lowers blood pressure. These medicines also put more water and salt into the urine. This lowers blood pressure too.

These medicines are a good choice for people with diabetes. They don't affect blood sugar levels, and they may protect the kidneys.

Examples include:

  • Benazepril (Lotensin).
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril).
  • Ramipril (Altace).

Before you start taking this medicine, make sure your doctor knows if you take other medicines, especially water pills (diuretics) or potassium tablets. And tell your doctor if you use a salt substitute. You should not take an ACE inhibitor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

You may need regular blood tests.

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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Be sure to take your medicine every day. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • ACE inhibitors can cause a dry cough. If the cough is bad, talk to your doctor. You may need to try a different medicine.
  • ACE inhibitors can cause swelling of your lips, tongue, or face. If the swelling is severe, you may need treatment right away. Severe swelling can make it hard to breathe, but this is very rare.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you use any other medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have swelling of your lips, tongue, or face.
  • You think you are having problems with your medicine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.