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Heart Disease and ACE Inhibitors


What Are the Side Effects of ACE Inhibitors?

Possible side effects when taking ACE inhibitors include:

  • Cough. If this symptom persists or is severe, contact your doctor. Ask your doctor what type of cough medicine you may use to control the cough.
  • Red, itchyskin rash. Contact your doctor; do not treat the rash yourself.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness upon rising. This side effect may be strongest after the first dose, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Get up more slowly. Contact your doctor if these symptoms persist or are severe.
  • Salty or metallic taste or a decreased ability to taste. This effect usually goes away as you continue taking the medication.
  • Physical symptoms.Sore throat, fever, mouth sores, unusual bruising, fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, swelling of feet, ankles, lower legs. Contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Swelling of your neck, face, and tongue. Contact your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. This is a potential emergency.
  • High potassium levels. This is a potentially life-threatening complication. Therefore, people on ACE inhibitors should regularly have blood tests to measure potassium levels. Signs of too much potassium in the body include confusion; irregular heartbeat; nervousness; numbness or tingling in hands, feet or lips; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; weakness or heaviness in legs. Contact your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea. If you have severe vomiting or diarrhea you may become dehydrated, which can lead to low blood pressure. Contact your doctor right away.

Also contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.

Can Pregnant Women Take ACE Inhibitors?

Women should not take ACE inhibitors during pregnancy, especially during their second and third trimesters. ACE inhibitors can lower blood pressure and cause kidney failure or high potassium levels in the blood of the mother. They can cause death or deformity in the newborn.

It is recommended that babies not be breast fed if the mother is taking an ACE inhibitor since the medicine can pass through breast milk.

Can Children Take ACE Inhibitors?

Yes, children can take ACE inhibitors. However, kids are more sensitive to the effects of ACE inhibitors on blood pressure. Thus, they are at higher risk of having severe side effects from the drug. Before giving this drug to children, parents are encouraged to discuss the potential benefits and risks with their pediatric cardiologist (heart doctor).



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on February 22, 2012
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