Updated & improved

ACE (Angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors

What they do

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.

What are the expected benefits?

ACE inhibitors have been shown to reduce heart failure-related hospitalisations, prolong life, and improve exercise tolerance and quality of life.

Side effects

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.

Top tips

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.

Also known as:

  • Benazepril
  • Captopril
    (Ecopace®, Kaplon®, Tensopril®, Acepril®, Capoten®)
  • Cilazapril
  • Enalapril
    (Ednyt®, Innovace®, Vasotec®)
  • Fosinopril
    (Staril®, Monopril®)
  • Lisinopril
    (Carace®, Prinivil®, Zestril®)
  • Moexipril
    (Perdix®, Univasc®)
  • Ramipril
    (Lopace®, Tritace®, Altace®)
  • Perindopril
    (Aceon®, Acertin®, Coverene®, Coverex®, Coversum®, Coversyl®, Prestarium®, Prestoril®, Prexanil®, Prexum®, Procaptan®)
  • Quinapril
    (Quinil®, Accupro®, Accupril®)
  • Trandolapril
    (Mavik®, Gopten®, Odrik®)
  • Combination products
    (Accuretic®, Carace Plus®, Capozide®, Captoten®, Coversyl Plus®, Cozido-capt®, Innozide®, Triapin®, Triapin mite®, Tarka®, Zestoretic®,)


Animation explaining how ACE inhibitors work in heart failure

Return to Heart failure medicines



A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


Click to print these tools to help you monitor your heart failure


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers.

heartfailurematers.org is a European Society of Cardiology website

The heartfailurematters.org website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

Back to top