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Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

Other names: ACE inhibitors

What are ACE Inhibitors?

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) are a group of medicines that are mainly used to treat certain heart and kidney conditions; however, they may be used in the management of other conditions such as migraine and scleroderma.

They block the production of angiotensin II, a substance that narrows blood vessels and releases hormones such as aldosterone and norepinephrine, by inhibiting an enzyme called angiotensin converting enzyme. Angiotensin II, aldosterone, and norepinephrine all increase blood pressure and urine production by the kidneys. If levels of these three substances decrease in the body, this allows blood vessels to relax and dilate (widen), reducing both blood and kidney pressure. ACE inhibitors also increase the production of bradykinin, another substance that makes blood vessels dilate.

What are ACE inhibitors used for?

ACE inhibitors may be used for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Certain chronic kidney conditions (but not others)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Prevention of migraines
  • Scleroderma
  • To reduce the risk of complications following a heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • To reduce the risk of kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) in people with diabetes.

They may also be used for other conditions not listed here.