Heart Failure and ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors widen the blood vessels to improve your blood flow. This helps decrease the amount of work the heart has to do.

They also block a substance in the blood called angiotensin that is made as a result of heart failure. Angiotensin is one of the most powerful blood vessel narrowers in the body.

ACE inhibitors are critical in the treatment of heart failure. They are also used to control high blood pressure, prevent kidney damage from diabetes, and prevent more heart damage after a heart attack.

Examples of them include:

How Do I Take Them?

They’re usually taken on an empty stomach an hour before meals. Follow the label on how often to take them. The number of doses you take each day, the time between doses, and how long you’ll take your ACE inhibitor will depend on what you were prescribed as well as your condition.

What Are the Side Effects of ACE Inhibitors?

Red, itchy skin rash : Call your doctor. Don’t treat the rash yourself.

Dizziness , lightheadedness, or faintness upon rising: These may be strongest after the first dose, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Get up more slowly. Call 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, call your doctor. Otherwise, ask him what type of cough medicine you may use.

If you have any of the following side effects, call your doctor right away:

If you have swelling of your neck, face, or tongue , get emergency medical help immediately. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you become sick with severe vomiting or diarrhea, you may become dehydrated, which can lead to low blood pressure. Call your doctor. Also contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.

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Should I Avoid Certain Foods or Medicine While Taking ACE Inhibitors?

Yes. These include:

Salt substitutes: They have potassium, and ACE inhibitors make your body retain potassium.

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (like acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen , and naproxen ): These may cause your body to retain sodium and water and decrease the effect of an ACE inhibitor. Check with your doctor before taking any anti-inflammatory drugs.

It is important that your doctor know about all the medicines you’re taking, as some may interact with ACE inhibitors. Talk to your doctor before taking any new medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.

Other Guidelines for ACE Inhibitors

While taking an ACE inhibitor, have your blood pressure and kidney health checked regularly, as advised by your doctor.

Never stop taking your medication, even if you feel that it is not working. Your heart failure symptoms may not improve right away when taking ACE inhibitors. But long-term use of ACE inhibitors helps manage chronic heart failure and reduces the risk that it will get worse.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on July 21, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "'ACE Inhibitors' and 'ARBs' To Protect Your Heart?"

MedlinePlus: "ACE inhibitors."

ConsumerReports.org: "ACE Inhibitors."

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "How Is Heart Failure Treated?"

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