Learning About ACE Inhibitors for Heart Failure

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The heart


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:

  • Make it easier for your heart to pump.
  • Help reduce symptoms.
  • Make a heart attack or stroke less likely.


These medicines include:

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

Note: This is not a complete list.

Possible side effects

Side effects may include:

  • Cough.
  • Low blood pressure. You may feel dizzy and weak.
  • High potassium levels.
  • An allergic reaction.

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:
    • Are often used to treat heart failure. They may be the only medicine used if your only symptoms are feeling tired and mildly short of breath with no fluid buildup (edema). But in most other cases, they are used with other medicines.
    • Can cause a dry cough. If the cough is bad, talk to your doctor. You may need to try a different medicine.
    • Can relieve symptoms, improve how you feel, and make it less likely you will need to stay in a hospital. And they can reduce the risk of early death.
    • Can cause an allergic reaction of the skin. Symptoms may range from mild swelling to painful welts. It is rare to have severe swelling that makes it hard to breathe.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line 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 and natural health products you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.
  • You should not take an ACE inhibitor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • You may need regular blood tests.

Where can you learn more?

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

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