ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) Inhibitors

What is this medication?

The official name for these drugs is angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. But they are usually called ACE inhibitors.

ACE inhibitors include:
Benazepril (Lotensin®)
Captopril (Capoten®)
Cilazapril (Inhibace®)
Enalapril (Vasotec®)
Fosinopril (Monopril®)
Lisinopril (Prinivil®, Zestril®)
Perindopril (Coversyl®)
Quinapril (Accupril®)
Ramipril (Altace®)
Trandolapril (Mavik®)

Be aware:

  • Generic names are listed first.
  • Canadian brand names are in brackets.
  • This list doesn’t include every brand name.
  • If your prescription isn’t listed, your pharmacist is the best source for more information.
What does it do?

ACE inhibitors reduce the risk of having a heart attack.

  • They open the blood vessels and make it easier for your heart to do its job.
  • If your heart has been weakened, an ACE inhibitor will protect it and help it get stronger.

Key facts about ACE inhibitors:

  • Make it easier for your heart to pump.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Protect the heart and blood vessels. 
  • Protect the kidneys in people with diabetes or kidney disease.
  • Are usually taken for life if you have coronary artery disease.
How do I take it?

Take your ACE inhibitor exactly as prescribed.

Try to take it at the same time(s) every day.

  • If you take it more than once each day, space it out through the day.
  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do this unless it’s almost time for the next dose.
  • Never double-up your dose or take extra medication to make up for the missed dose.

When you start on an ACE inhibitor, you will need blood tests to monitor your kidney function and potassium levels.

Be aware:  If you take an ACE inhibitor, keep a written log of your heart rate (pulse) and blood pressure.

  • Track your heart rate by taking your pulse daily.
  • Write down your blood pressure numbers every time you take your blood pressure. It could be from your healthcare provider, the automated blood pressure machine at the drugstore, or your home blood pressure monitor.
Are there any interactions?

Some medications can stop your heart medicine from working properly. They may even cause other health problems.

  • ACE inhibitors can increase the amount of potassium in your body.
    • Avoid salt substitutes or potassium supplements unless they are prescribed for you.
  • You may be prescribed an ACE inhibitor or an ARB (angiotensin receptor blocker), but probably not both.
    • It may be harmful to take both types of medication together, unless specifically directed.

Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medications you are taking. These include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Inhalers
  • Creams or ointments
  • Over-the-counter or natural health products
  • Alternative therapies
  • Vitamins, minerals or supplements
  • Herbal remedies
  • Homeopathic medicines
  • Traditional remedies, such as Chinese medicines
Are there any side effects?

ACE inhibitors can cause some side effects.

  • ACE inhibitors will lower your blood pressure.
    • If you are dizzy or feel like you might faint, sit or lie down right away.
    • Get up slowly to give your blood vessels time to adjust.
    • If you take your ACE inhibitor once per day, try taking it at bedtime to ease dizziness.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you have dizziness or if your medication makes you sleepy.
  • You may develop a dry cough or tickle in the throat that does not go away.

If you have side effects, talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

Be aware: You may develop swelling of the face, mouth, or throat, or notice that you are peeing less than normal.

Call your healthcare provider right away or go to the closest emergency room if this happens to you.

Lifestyle changes that can also help

There are two ways to control and manage your heart health: medication and lifestyle.

Medication can help you control heart disease and high blood pressure, but it cannot cure it.

A healthy lifestyle can help you keep medication to a minimum.

Visit Learn how to keep your heart healthy with current information and advice from Heart and Stroke Foundation experts.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the most beneficial lifestyle goals for you.

Related information

Your healthcare provider or pharmacist are your best sources of information. You can also learn more about medications at any of these trusted sites.

Health Canada - Drugs and Health Products
Provides health and medical information for Canadians to maintain and improve their health.

Learn more about:

Your ministry of health also offers health resources in your province or territory. For example, Ontario’s MedsCheck program provides free pharmacist consultations. And British Columbia’s Senior Healthcare web page provides information about important health programs.

Québec has the Portail santé mieux-être for my loved ones and me : Health and Psychosocial Issues; Advice and Prevention; Assistance measures and Programs; Finding a resource.

Drug coverage