captopril, Capoten

  • 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 is captopril, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Captopril is an oral drug and a member of a class of drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors are used for treating high blood pressure, heart failure, and for preventing kidney failure due to high blood pressure and diabetes. Other ACE inhibitors include enalapril (Vasotec), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), fosinopril (Monopril), benazepril (Lotensin), lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil), moexipril (Univasc) and trandolapril (Mavik).

Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical that causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract, thereby narrowing the vessels. The narrowing of the vessels increases the pressure within the vessels causing high blood pressure (hypertension). Angiotensin II is formed from angiotensin I in the blood by the enzyme angiotensin converting enzyme or ACE. ACE inhibitors are medications that slow (inhibit) the activity of the enzyme ACE and decrease the production of angiotensin II. As a result, blood vessels enlarge or dilate, and blood pressure is reduced. The lower blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and can improve the function of a failing heart. In addition, progression of the disease in the blood vessels within the kidney caused by high blood pressure or diabetes is slowed. The FDA approved captopril in April 1981.

What brand names are available for captopril?

Capoten

Is captopril available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for captopril?

Yes

What are the side effects of captopril?

Captopril generally is well tolerated, and side effects are usually mild and transient. A dry, persistent cough has been reported commonly with the use of captopril and other ACE inhibitors. Coughing resolves after discontinuing the drug. Other side effects include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, rash, dizziness, fatigue, headache, loss of taste, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fainting and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Captopril and other ACE inhibitors also may cause kidney failure and increased levels of potassium in the blood. Serious but, fortunately, very rare side effects are liver failure and angioedema (swelling of lips and throat that can obstruct breathing).

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