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ACE inhibitors

ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) are medications that lower blood pressure and lessen the workload of your heart. Read about the different types of ACE inhibitors, how they work, and their side effects.

Types of ACE inhibitors

  • captopril, also called Capoten
  • enalapril, also called Enalapril (Ethics), Renitec M
  • lisinopril, also called Arrow-Lisinopril, Lisinopril (Ethics)
  • perindopril, also called Coversyl, Apo-Perindopril
  • quinapril, also called Arrow-Quinapril, Accupril

How do ACE inhibitors work?

ACE inhibitors widen your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure, making it easier for your heart to pump.

Side effects

You may experience some unwanted side effects when taking an ACE inhibitor. These can include:

  • a dry irritating cough (this often improves with time)
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations (feeling that your heart is racing)
  • skin irritations, such as a rash
  • possible kidney problems or increased potassium levels (these will be monitored by your health professional).

Ring 111 if you have any of the following:

  • severe chest pain
  • severe headache
  • acute shortness of breath (your breathing is so difficult that you feel unsafe)
  • swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, as this could be an allergic reaction.

Talk to your doctor if your side effects are worrying you. Don’t stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. The benefits usually outweigh the side effects. It may take a while for the medication to work.

What checks do I need?

You will have regular blood tests to check kidney function and potassium levels when you're on this medication.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose, take it immediately, then continue as normal the following day. However, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue as normal. 

Do NOT take a double dose.

What else do I need to know when taking ACE inhibitors?

Tell your health professionals if you’re taking any:

  • supplements
  • natural medicines
  • vitamins 
  • alternative therapies. 

These can sometimes make your heart medications less effective.

ACE inhibitors can cause health problems for unborn babies, so talk to your doctor about pregnancy or breastfeeding if these apply to you.

ACE inhibitors combined with diuretics

ACE inhibitors are also commonly prescribed in combination with diuretics. The common names for these combination drugs are:

  • quinapril + hydrochlorothiazide, also known as Accuretic.

Related treatments and conditions

Blood pressure

Heart failure

What is my risk of heart attack or stroke?

Search for another heart medication