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    What Are ACE Inhibitors Used For?

    Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, commonly shortened to ACE inhibitors, are a prescription medication used to help lower blood pressure and protect your kidneys and heart. This medication widens your blood vessels, which increases the amount of blood that can be pumped by your heart.

    How ACE Inhibitors Work
    ACE inhibitors work by blocking angiotensin-converting enzymes in the body from converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II. This is beneficial because angiotensin II can elevate blood pressure in multiple ways, so reducing the amount that the body produces is an effective method of lowering blood pressure.

    ACE can raise your blood pressure in two ways, the first of which is the angiotensin I conversion. This can increase your blood pressure by affecting different parts of the body. In the circulatory system, blood pressure is increased due to the blood vessels tightening and narrowing. It affects the kidneys by limiting how much sodium and water are removed from your body, and in the endocrine system, it causes the adrenal gland to release aldosterone.

    The other way that ACE can increase your blood pressure is by the breakdown of bradykinin. Bradykinin is a protein that lowers blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels and helping your kidneys remove sodium from your body. ACE breaks this bradykinin down, and less of this protein in the body makes your blood pressure go up.

    ACE inhibitors prevent the angiotensin-converting enzyme from performing these functions, which leads to less angiotensin II that can raise blood pressure, and more bradykinin to lower blood pressure. This can help manage a variety of conditions that are caused by high blood pressure.

    Why Take ACE Inhibitors
    ACE inhibitors are prescribed to help lower blood pressure, but also to treat other kidney or heart conditions. Heart conditions this medication can help with include heart failure, recovering from or preventing heart attacks, and preventing stroke. ACE inhibitors can also help treat kidney diseases such as nephrotic syndrome, proteinuria, glomerular disease, and post-transplant glomerulonephritis, along with preventing or slowing the progression of kidney failure in people with diabetes.

    Side Effects Of ACE Inhibitors
    ACE inhibitors can cause side effects that range from mild to severe, with common mild side effects including a dry cough, dizziness and weakness, fatigue and drowsiness, and headaches. Less common but still mild side effects include a rash, upset stomach or nausea, and a decreased ability to taste or a noticeable metallic taste.

    In some cases, ACE inhibitors can trigger severe side effects such as swelling in of your face, eyes, mouth, lips, tongue, throat, legs, feet, or hands. If this swelling occurs in your face, mouth, or throat, you should seek medical attention immediately.

    Other severe side effects include jaundice, allergic reactions, fever, mouth sores, rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, intense vomiting or diarrhea, and high potassium levels. High levels of potassium is a potentially life-threatening complication, so you should seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of this include confusion, nervousness, heaviness in the legs, numbness in hands and feet, and difficulty breathing.

    Do not take ACE inhibitors if you are currently pregnant, as they can cause birth defects or fetal death. When breastfeeding, avoid ACE inhibitors as well, as the medication can transfer to the baby and cause dangerously low blood pressure.

    ACE Inhibitor Food Or Drug Interactions
    ACE inhibitors may interact with other substances or medications. Don’t take salt substitutes before discussing it with your doctor or nurse, since this can lead to increased levels of sodium or potassium. You should also avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Don’t take ACE inhibitors if you also take angiotensin-receptor blockers or medications that affect your kidneys, or that affect your potassium or sodium levels.

    Benefits Of ACE Inhibitors
    There are many advantages of taking ACE inhibitors which is why they are commonly prescribed to help with blood pressure. These benefits include their efficacy and safety, since there has been extensive scientific research conducted about these medications.

    In addition to treating conditions, ACE inhibitors are also preventative which means they can stop the conditions before they ever occur. Another benefit of ACE inhibitors is that they combine well with certain other types of blood pressure controlling medications.

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