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ACE Inhibitor Drug Information

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What are ACE inhibitors and how do they work?

The class of drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, as the class name suggests, reduces the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme. ACE converts angiotensin I produced by the body to angiotensin II in the blood. Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical that causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract and narrow the blood vessels. Narrowing of blood vessels increases the pressure within the blood vessels and may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension).

By reducing the activity of ACE, ACE inhibitors decrease the formation of angiotensin II which leads to widening (dilation) of blood vessels, and thereby reduces blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure against which the heart must pump, the amount of work that the heart must do is reduced. ACE inhibitors also reduce blood pressure in the kidneys, slowing the progression of kidney disease due to high blood pressure or diabetes.

For what conditions are ACE inhibitors used?

ACE inhibitors are effective for control of blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and prevention of stroke and hypertension, or diabetes-related kidney damage. ACE inhibitors are especially important because they have been shown to prevent early death resulting from hypertension, heart failure or heart attacks; in studies of patients with hypertension, heart failure, or prior heart attacks, patients who received an ACE inhibitor survived longer than patients who did not receive an ACE inhibitor. ACE inhibitors may be combined with other drugs to achieve optimal blood pressure control.




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