ACE inhibitors help dilate the arteries, thereby decreasing resistance to blood flow and consequently decreasing blood pressure. They have many other beneficial effects and are used to treat patients with congestive heart failure. Many studies have shown that treatment of heart failure patients with ACE inhibitors improves heart failure symptoms, decreases the chance of future hospitalizations, decreases the risk for future heart attack, and decreases the risk of death from heart failure.

There are many ACE inhibitors available, including the following:

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Captopril (Capoten)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril (Monopril)
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Quinapril (Accupril)
  • Ramipril (Altace)
  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

ACE inhibitors are usually tolerated well, but there are potential side effects. Approximately 10 percent of patients develop a chronic nonproductive cough. Rarely, ACE inhibitors produce a sudden swelling of the lips, face, and cheek areas in an allergic reaction that can occur at any time during therapy. If an allergic reaction occurs, medical attention should be sought immediately. Because ACE inhibitors can affect kidney function and raise the potassium level, doctors monitor these during the first several weeks of therapy and periodically thereafter.

Publication Review By: Jagdish Patel, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Published: 30 Jun 2000

Last Modified: 21 Jan 2015