What You Need to Know About ACE Inhibitors

These drugs reduce the workload on the heart by helping to dilate blood vessels.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Altace), lisinopril (Prinivil) and captopril (Capoten) are used to treat a variety of cardiovascular-related issues, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke, and also improve survival in people following a heart attack. They also may be given to treat migraine and the autoimmune disease scleroderma if it is affecting the heart. And new research (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 13) suggests the drugs may reduce the inflammation that is thought to be a factor in Alzheimers disease. ACE inhibitors work by relaxing the blood vessels. In order to achieve this effect, they inhibit the activity of ACE, which converts a naturally occurring chemical called angiotensin I into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes the muscles surrounding the blood vessels to contract, thereby narrowing the vessels, which means the heart has to work harder to pump blood.
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