Uses for ACE inhibitors

Doctors prescribe ACE inhibitors to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Certain chronic kidney diseases
  • Heart attacks
  • Scleroderma
  • Migraines

Your doctor may prescribe other medications in addition to an ACE inhibitor, such as a diuretic or calcium channel blocker, as part of your high blood pressure treatment. ACE inhibitors are usually taken once daily.

Side effects and cautions

Doctors commonly prescribe ACE inhibitors because they don't often cause side effects.

Possible ACE inhibitor side effects include:

  • Dry cough
  • Increased blood-potassium level (hyperkalemia)
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Loss of taste

In rare cases — but more commonly in black people and in smokers — ACE inhibitors can cause some areas of your tissues to swell (angioedema). If it occurs in the throat, the swelling can be life-threatening.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), decrease the effectiveness of ACE inhibitors. Taking an occasional dose of these medications shouldn't change the effectiveness of your ACE inhibitor, but talk to your doctor if you regularly take NSAIDs.

Because ACE inhibitors can cause birth defects, talk to your doctor about other options to treat your blood pressure if you're pregnant or you plan to become pregnant.

June 29, 2016 See more In-depth