Prevalence of hypertension is high in the United States, affecting almost half the adult population. To compound this further, three out of every four individuals with hypertension are either unaware of the condition or do not have it under control. Hypertension is regarded as the silent killer as the damage to the organs and overall health is gradual. Most individuals are aware of the condition only at an advanced stage, when the conditions manifest. Among the various medications used for controlling the condition ACE inhibitors are regarded as effective in lowering blood pressure. Here is a good look at commonly reported ace inhibitors side effects and measures to mitigate the effects.
Overview, mechanism of action and ace inhibitors side effects
To understand ace inhibitors side effects better, it is essential to learn more about the drug and its mechanism of action. ACE, acronym for angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors help in lowering blood pressure levels by relaxing veins and arteries in the body. This brings down the blood pressure levels. Narrowing of the blood vessels is one of the reasons for hypertension and this narrowing is attributed to angiotensin II. This substance narrows the blood vessels, builds up blood pressure and increases the burden on the heart. All ACE inhibitors are drug formulations that have a similar mechanism of action with changes in the mode of elimination from the body. This change is an important consideration as it hinges on the ability of the patient’s liver/kidneys to function.
Mechanism of action of ACE inhibitors
As mentioned above, a clear understanding of the mechanism of action is necessary to learn all about ace inhibitors side effects. Angiotensin II is produced by Angiotensin I which is present in the blood and triggers the contraction of muscles that surround the blood vessels. Consequently, the blood vessels constrict or narrow and this increases blood pressure levels. A protein that is produced in the liver starts the sequence of actions that result in the forming of angiotensin II. ACE inhibitors are medications that inhibit or prevent the activity of certain enzymes that are responsible for the creation of angiotensin II through conversion.
As a consequence of this, blood vessels relax and this helps in lowering the blood pressure levels. The dilation which brings about a lowering of the blood pressure levels, helps reduce the burden on the heart, thereby preventing various ailments. It is important to understand that hypertension can result in organ damage and by controlling hypertension, the impact is mitigated or prevented.
Conditions that are treated with ACE inhibitors
With the above information, it is time to understand the conditions that are treated with ACE inhibitors. The formulations are used to either prevent, to treat or manage conditions that could result in coronary artery disease, and possible heart attacks. Individuals who are at risk of possible heart failure also find treatment with ACE inhibitors to be effective. Similarly, ACE inhibitors are considered as effective in treating individuals who are risk of developing diabetes. Other conditions that can be managed with the medication include migraines, and specific conditions of chronic heart diseases, apart from scleroderma. This condition refers to the hardening of the various connective tissues and the skin.
Scleroderma is known to be a long-lasting condition that is attributed to excessive collagen production. Some of the above conditions are often treated with a combination of medications that include diuretics and calcium channel blockers. However, patients are warned against combining ACE inhibitors with certain medications that are typically prescribed for specific conditions – for instance, renin inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. Before we look at ace inhibitors side effects it is necessary to understand that the medication is generally more effective when prescribed for individuals of younger age groups than older age groups.
ACE inhibitors side effects : drug interactions of ACE inhibitors
ACE inhibitors side effects include drug interactions with other medications and it is therefore essential to understand the possible drug interactions and complications. For instance, some ACE inhibitors are known to have an impact on the absorption of medications such as tetracycline. This is attributed to the binding property of the ingredients of the medication with ingredients of other medications. Other possible drug interactions include an increase in the blood concentration levels of medications with lithium, and consequently, this would result in increased side effects attributed to lithium.
The medication is also not to be taken along with potassium supplements and salt substitutes as this may significantly alter the blood potassium levels. ACE inhibitors are known to bring about an increase in the levels of potassium when combined and this may end up as toxic levels that may impact health considerably. Other possible drug interactions include the blood pressure lowering properties of ACE inhibitors that may impact the performance of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory inhibitors).
ACE inhibitors side effects commonly reported side effects
It is time to take a look at commonly reported ACE inhibitors side effects. While the medications are typically regarded as a category that have relatively lesser side effects, there are possible undesirable outcomes. For instance, individuals are known to end up with a persistent dry cough that could be irritating at times. This is because of the gradual build up of certain compounds. The release of these compounds are stimulated by ACE inhibitors and individuals who are on long term use will end up with cough. This is recorded as the most commonly reported ACE inhibitors side effects. The symptoms are known to resolve naturally after the medication is discontinued. Individuals are also known to experience a light headed feeling that could be accompanied by dizziness as a result of the medication. As a result of the impact on blood pressure levels, certain medications are known to cause dizziness and light headed feelings. As ACE inhibitors have relatively lesser impact on blood pressure levels this symptom is not very common or intense. It may manifest in certain patients with low blood pressure levels (hypotension), and it is therefore necessary to take adequate precautions when treating patients with hypotension.
ACE inhibitors side effects : Increase in potassium levels
There is the possibility of an increase in potassium levels and this makes hyperkalemia one of the ACE inhibitors side effects. Potassium secretion in the kidneys is regulated by aldosterone and when this hormone is affected, it could cause an increase in potassium levels. ACE inhibitors are known to reduce aldosterone levels and this is likely to bring about an increase in potassium levels. Consequently, patients may end up with higher potassium levels in the kidney and in the blood. High risk patients include individuals with existing kidney ailments and diabetes. Patients with these pre-existing conditions are to exercise caution and monitor possible symptoms. For instance, the manifestation of certain symptoms are indicative of these side effects. Muscle cramps, overall weakness and confusion that is not attributed to other conditions are possible indications. Certain indications are typically regarded as severe that may warrant medication intervention. For instance, in a limited number of patients and conditions, there is the possibility of hyperkalemia (increased potassium levels) resulting in irregular heartbeat, medically known as arrhythmias.
Abnormal swelling beneath the skin : ACE inhibitors side effects
There are certain side effects that are regarded as severe, that may require medical intervention at the earliest. While this qualifies as ACE inhibitors side effects, it is relatively rare and is known to affect only a limited number of patients. Known as angioedema, the condition refers to the sweeling that occurs beneath the skin and is attributed to fluid build-up. Depending on the area that is affected with the condition, severity is accorded. In a large number of cases, the condition is known to affect the mouth, or the lips or the tongue and this is typically temporary in nature. However, when the condition affects the upper airway and the larynx, the outcomes could be adverse. For instance, patients may then require emergency attention. Individuals experiencing any kind of complications when on the medication are advised to immediately discontinue usage and seek emergency attention whenever required.
Loss/change of taste sensation : ACE inhibitors side effects
Other ACE inhibitors side effects include a change of taste sensation in the mouth. This is known as dysgeusia and is relatively common. By virtue of the type of effect, it is not considered as a serious or adverse effect. Additionally, the side effects are also known to resolve naturally when the medications are taken for a long time. The taste sensations that are pronounced include a distinct metallic taste. Individuals on the medication are also known to experience adverse effects on the kidneys. For instance, in a limited number of cases, there is the possibility of renal impairment as a result of the medication.
This is however, limited to only patients with bilateral renal artery stenosis who are on ACE inhibitors. The condition that is known to manifest is known as renal insufficiency. The outcome of this condition is a lowering of the filtration rate of the kidneys, which is in turn attributed to the inhibition of renal arteriolar vasoconstriction. Similar to other side effects, these effects will stop after the medication is discontinued. Reversal occurs after a period of discontinuation of the formulation.
General ACE inhibitors side effects
In addition to the above, the following ACE inhibitors side effects are also commonly reported by patients on the medication. As mentioned earlier, the drug is regarded as relatively safe, and these side effects are reported in a small section of patients. For instance, individuals are likely to experience bouts of diarrhea when on the medication. There is also the possibility of individuals experiencing vomiting sensations as a result of the medication. When either of the conditions are severe or prolonged, there is the possibility of this result in lowered blood pressure levels. As mentioned earlier, hypotension can lead to adverse complications and it is essential to monitor blood pressure levels diligently. Other manifestations of ACE inhibitors side effects include the possibility of individuals experiencing headaches and general weakness as a result of the medication. Patients have reported sexual dysfunction when on the medication, while some report headaches and fainting regularly.