Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors block the effects of a hormone your kidneys naturally produce called angiotensin II. By blocking the effect of angiotensin II, ACE inhibitors cause your blood vessels to relax and this lowers your blood pressure. This is called vasodilatation when the blood vessels have relaxed and dilated. This means your heart doesn't have to work so hard to squeeze your blood around your body.
ACE inhibitors have been shown to reduce heart failure-related hospitalisations, prolong life, and improve exercise tolerance and quality of life.
Since ACE inhibitors lower your blood pressure, they can sometimes make you feel dizzy. Your blood pressure will be monitored regularly. ACE inhibitors can also cause small changes in how your kidneys function or increase your potassium levels - your doctor will check for this with regular blood tests.
Some people also develop a dry cough. If this happens to you, your doctor can lower your dose or switch you to another medication, if it doesn't get better over time. Less commonly, people may experience changes in taste of have rashes. Very rarely, people taking ACE inhibitors develop swelling of their lips or throat. You should get medical help immediately if this happens.
Your doctor may advise you to take the first dose of your ACE inhibitor before going to bed to try and prevent any dizziness. Dizziness is common with any drug that lowers blood pressure, but your heart can function better at these lower pressures.
If you do feel dizzy in the morning, try moving your feet back and forth about ten times before you stand up. Or, you may find it helpful to dangle your legs over the side of the bed before sitting up, and then sit at the side of the bed for a minute before standing. You should avoid standing up quickly, either from sitting or bending down, as this can make you feel dizzy - take your time and allow your body to adjust.
|Animation explaining how ACE inhibitors work in heart failure|