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Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (also called ACE inhibitors) are medicines that block the conversion of the chemical angiotensin I to a substance that increases salt and water retention in the body.
ACE inhibitors are used in the treatment of high blood pressure. They may be used alone or in combination with other medicines for high blood pressure. They work by preventing a chemical in the blood, angiotensin I, from being converted into a substance that increases salt and water retention in the body. Increased salt and water retention lead to high blood pressure. ACE inhibitors also make blood vessels relax, which helps lower blood pressure and allows more oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart.
Treating high blood pressure is important because the condition puts a burden on the heart and the arteries, which can lead to permanent damage over time. If untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, or kidney failure.
ACE inhibitors may also be prescribed for other conditions. For example, captopril (Capoten) is used to treat kidney problems in people who take insulin to control diabetes. Captopril and lisinopril are also given to some patients after a heart attack. Heart attacks damage and weaken the heart muscle, and the damage continues even after a person recovers from the attack. This medicine helps slow down further damage to the heart. ACE inhibitors also may be used to treat congestive heart failure.
ACE inhibitors are available only with a physician's prescription and come in tablet, capsule, and injectable forms. Some commonly used ACE inhibitors are benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace) and trandolapril (Mavik).
The recommended dosage depends on the type of ACE inhibitor and the medical condition for which it is being taken. Check with the physician who prescribed the drug or the pharmacist who filled the prescription for the correct dosage.
This medicine may take weeks to noticeably lower blood pressure. Take it exactly as directed.
Do not stop taking this medicine without checking with the physician who prescribed it.
Author Info: Nancy Ross-Flanigan, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002
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