Skip to main content

ACE angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors

  • ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors help relax blood vessels and make it easier for your heart to pump blood. They may help you feel better, have fewer symptoms and live longer.

    They are used to treat heart failure, high blood pressure or if you have had a heart attack. ACE inhibitors will help you even if you don't have these problems.

    You may have to take ACE inhibitors for several weeks before you notice any changes.

    Common ACE inhibitors include:

    • enalapril (Vasotec®)
    • captopril (Capoten®)
    • lisinopril (Zestril® and Prinivil®)
    • quinipril (Accupril®)
    • ramipril (Altace®)

    Important

    Don't take non-steroidal anti inflammatory (NSAID) medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Aleve®, Motrin®) if you are taking ACE/ARB medicines.

    Side effects

    Most people have few side effects from ACE inhibitors. Call your health care provider if you have any of these side effects:

    • dizziness (especially in the morning). This may be slight if your ACE inhibitor is started at a low dose and slowly increased. Get slowly out of bed or a chair.
    • dry cough that won't go away. This cough is common with ACE inhibitors. It may decrease once you have been taking the medicine for a while. If the cough is from the medicine, not from the heart failure, your health care provider may lower the dose or switch your medicine.
    • increased swelling (especially in your lips or throat). This side effect is rare but it is serious.
    • joint or muscle pain. This is arthritis-like pain that may occur in the legs, hips, knees, shoulders, back or neck.
    • problems with your kidneys. You will have blood tests done occasionally to watch for any problems.
    • low blood pressure. Ask your health care provider how often you should have your blood pressure checked.

    When to call your health care provider

    Some side effects may go away as your body adjusts to the ACE inhibitor. If any of the following side effects won't go away or if they bother you, call your health care provider:

    • headache
    • dizziness that lasts for more than 10 minutes or causes trouble walking
    • loss of taste or unusual taste
    • swelling in your lips and throat
    • unusual tiredness

    ACE inhibitors may increase the amount of potassium in your body. Call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms:

    • confusion
    • slow, weak pulse
    • nervousness
    • numbness or tingling in your hands, feet or lips
    • weakness in your legs
    • irregular heartbeat