Common brand names of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors include Lotensin, Capoten, Monopril, Univasc and Mavik, according to the American Heart Association. Vasotec, Zestril, Aceon and Altace represent other brand names of ACE inhibitors that help lower blood pressure, notes WebMD.
These types of medications are available by prescription in the United States, says the American Heart Association. ACE inhibitors block an enzyme that constricts blood vessels, which, in turn, opens blood vessels wider to allow more blood to flow. The body produces less angiotensin when patients take these types of medications. Angiotensin causes arteries, especially those in kidneys, to narrow.
ACE inhibitors also increase the amount of water and sodium in urine, notes WebMD. This diuretic effect lowers blood pressure. Doctors may combine ACE inhibitors with diuretics or other medications to lower blood pressure. Physicians may prescribe these types of medications for people who have had heart attacks because ACE inhibitors lower the workload of the heart. Diabetics may also get prescriptions for ACE inhibitors since these drugs do not affect blood sugar levels. ACE inhibitors may prevent a heart attack or stroke.
This class of drugs can also help treat congestive heart failure and kidney disease, according to RxList. Patients with heart problems have been shown to live longer after taking ACE inhibitors than those who did not receive the drugs.
Although most people do not experience side effects from taking ACE inhibitors, these medications do carry some potential risks, asserts WebMD. Coughing and headaches are minor side effects, but patients who get hives, heart palpitations, swelling or have difficulty breathing as a result of taking ACE inhibitors should seek immediate medical attention. Pregnant women should not take these medications, and individuals taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or potassium supplements should be aware of possible drug interactions with ACE inhibitors.