ACE inhibitors are a vasodilator; that means they dilate (or widen) the blood vessels to improve blood flow, which helps to decrease the amount of work the heart has to do. They also block some of the harmful substances in the blood (angiotensin) that are produced as a result of heart failure. Angiotensin is one of the most powerful vasoconstrictors (they narrow the blood vessels) in the body.
ACE inhibitors are critical in the treatment of heart failure when systolic dysfunction is present and may also be prescribed for the treatment of diastolic dysfunction.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
ACE inhibitors are usually taken on an empty stomach one hour before meals. Follow the label directions on how often to take your medication. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take the drug will depend on the type of ACE inhibitor prescribed, as well as your condition.
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 and a decreased ability to taste: This effect usually goes away as you continue taking the medication.
Cough: If this symptom persists or is severe, contact your doctor. Otherwise, ask your doctor what type of cough medicine you may use to control the cough.
Swelling of your neck, face, and tongue: This is a medical emergency. Seek emergency medical treatment immediately: Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.
If you become sick with severe vomiting or diarrhea, you may become dehydrated, which can lead to low blood pressure. Contact your doctor. Also contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.