What Are the Pros and Cons of ACE Inhibitors for Blood Pressure?

Ken Black

Using ace inhibitors for blood pressure is a common practice that has some pros and some cons. Understanding both the benefits and negative side effects can help patients determine whether this is a good option for them, when discussing choices for treatment with a doctor. The main benefit is lowering and maintaining a more acceptable blood pressure level, which also prevents a number of more serious secondary issues. The cons of using ace inhibitors for blood pressure include minor things such as skin rashes, dizziness, and cough, but can also lead to more serious side effects such as kidney failure.

ACE inhibitor capsules.
ACE inhibitor capsules.

Ace inhibitors work by inhibiting or slowing the production angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). This produces a substance known as angiotensin II, which causes the blood vessels to contract. Thus, as a natural result, the heart must work harder to pump blood through the vessels. If there is less ACE in the body, then the blood vessels naturally relax a little bit, and the blood pressure is lowered as a result because the heart is not working as hard. This is the main way using ace inhibitors for blood pressure works.

Blood pressure is the force exerted on the walls of blood vessels as blood travels around the body.
Blood pressure is the force exerted on the walls of blood vessels as blood travels around the body.

There are a number of negative side effects that can also develop from using ace inhibitors for blood pressure. While the more serious side effects generally take time to develop, some can take place relatively quickly, especially if they are related to some type of allergic reaction. Patients should be aware of any reactions when taking new medication, and report any negative effects to their physician. In some cases, alternative medicines can be used or other modifications made to make the drug safer for patients.

Among the more annoying, but less serious, cons to using ace inhibitors for blood pressure include an itchy, scaly skin rash. Dizziness is also a possibility, but this symptom usually gets better over time. If dizziness persists for extended periods, then altering the dosage could be of help. Some patients may also have an inability to taste, or at least a decreased ability to taste. The taste of foods may also seem to be more salty or metallic than before.

Some side effects represent a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention. Swelling of the face, neck, or tongue could indicate a serious problem, such as angioedema. Kidney failure and high potassium are other potential problems that could be life threatening. Often, blood tests could help determine if either of those two conditions are taking place. Patients should also report severe vomiting or diarrhea to a physician.

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