ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure and heart failure prevention

ACE inhibitors are one of the tools for treating heart related ailments. However, they are mostly used to lower high blood pressure, by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme.

Inhibition of ACE enzyme prevents the body from producing angiotensin II, by blocking the conversion of angiotensin I into angiotensin II.

Angiotensin II affects the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
It triggers vasoconstriction, increases water retention and may lead to heart enlargement thereby increasing the risk of heart failure, while raising blood pressure.

Higher levels of angiotensin II are usually seen in people that are faced with chronic stress.

USES AND TREATMENT

Besides for controlling blood pressure, ACE inhibitors are also used for:

  • Treating heart failure
  • Treating heart attack
  • Diabetes related kidney damage
  • High blood pressure related kidney damage
  • Prevention of stroke and hyperthension
  • Prevention of early death resulting from hypertension, heart failure or heart attacks
  • Migraines
  • Scleroderma
  • There are several kinds of ACE inhibitors. Some of them are metabolised differently, while others act on specific cells. Some act primarily on the angiotensin-converting enzyme found in the tissue, while others have bigger effect on angiotensin-converting enzyme found in the blood.

    Also, some of them need to be metabolised in the body into their active form, in order to work. This affects the dosage of these drugs and the way they are eliminated from the body.

    SIDE EFFECTS

    Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are a little bit safer than most other blood pressure medications. However, they are available only with prescription. Although rare, side effects are possible. They include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated blood potassium levels
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Some people can have severe reaction to ACE inhibitors such as swelling of the tissue, kidney failure and decrease in white blood cell count. Pregnant women also shouldn't take them since they can cause kidney failure as well as death or birth defects in the newborn.

    Nursing mothers shouldn't breastfeed their baby, if taking this kind of drug since it can be transferred to the baby which may cause dangerous side effect in the newborn.

    INTERACTIONS

    They may interact with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which can reduce the effectivness of ACE inhibitors. However, taking an ibuprofen or aspirin, occasionally, shouldn't affect the effectiveness of these medications.

    They may interact with potassium supplements and salt substitutes which contain potassium as well as increase blood concentrations of lithium. High concentrations of lithium in the blood can be dangerous.

    CONCLUSION

    This blood pressure medications are taken one hour before the meal, on empty stomach. However, how often you take them, how long and at which dosage, depends on your condition. It should be wise to monitor your kidney function, besides blood pressure, while taking them.

    Although they are effective, I prefer vitamin D since it too, has an effect on renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. While these blood pressure medications block the formation of angiotensin II, vitamin D decreases the formation of renin, its precursor, thereby lowering blood pressure.

    In other words, vitamin D is a safer natural alternative for ACE inhibitors.





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