Learning About ACE Inhibitors for Heart Failure

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Introduction

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors 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 also lowers blood pressure.

In heart failure, your heart does not pump as much blood as your body needs. These medicines can help:

  • Make it easier for your heart to pump.
  • Reduce symptoms.
  • Make it less likely you will need to stay in a hospital.
  • Lower the risk of early death.

Examples

  • benazepril (Lotensin)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • ramipril (Altace)

This is not a complete list.

Possible side effects

Side effects may include:

  • A cough.
  • Low blood pressure. This can make you feel dizzy or weak.
  • Too much potassium in your body.
  • 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 rare.

You may have other side effects or reactions not listed here. Check the information that comes with your medicine.

What to know about taking this medicine

  • ACE inhibitors can cause a dry cough. Talk to your doctor if you have a dry cough. You may need a different medicine.
  • These medicines can cause an allergic reaction. This can cause a little swelling. Or it can cause red bumps on your skin that hurt. In rare cases, the swelling may make it hard for you to breathe.
  • Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • 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.
  • You may need regular blood tests.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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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.