ACE Inhibitors (Side Effects, List of Names, Uses, and Dosage)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What are ACE inhibitors, and how do they work (mechanism of action)?

Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical produced by the body that primarily circulates in the blood. It causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract, thereby narrowing the vessels. The narrowing of the vessels increases the pressure within the vessels causing increases in blood pressure (hypertension). Angiotensin II is formed from angiotensin I in the blood by the enzyme angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). (Angiotensin I in the blood is itself formed from angiotensinogen, a protein produced by the liver and released into the blood.) Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) are medications that slow (inhibit) the activity of the enzyme ACE, which decreases the production of angiotensin II. As a result, blood vessels enlarge or dilate, and blood pressure is reduced. This lower blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and can improve the function of a failing heart. In addition, the progression of kidney disease due to high blood pressure or diabetes is slowed.

Why are ACE inhibitors prescribed (uses)?

  • ACE inhibitors are used for:
  • ACE inhibitors also improve survival after heart attacks. In studies, individuals with hypertension, heart failure, or prior heart attacks who were treated with an ACE inhibitor lived longer than patients who did not take an ACE inhibitor.
  • ACE inhibitors are an important group of drugs because they prevent early death resulting from hypertension, heart failure or heart attacks.
  • Some individuals with hypertension do not respond sufficiently to ACE inhibitors alone. In these cases, other drugs often are used in combination with ACE inhibitors.

List of examples of brand and generic drug names for ACE inhibitors

The following is a list of the ACE inhibitors that are available in the United States:

Are there any differences among the different types of ACE inhibitors?

ACE inhibitors are very similar. However, they differ in how they are eliminated from the body and their doses. Some ACE inhibitors remain in the body longer than others, and are given once a day. Some ACE inhibitors need to be converted into an active form in the body before they work. In addition, some ACE inhibitors may work more on ACE that is found in tissues than on ACE that is present in the blood. The importance of this difference or whether one ACE inhibitor is better than another has not been determined.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/12/2016

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