ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors are drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure and may be prescribed after a heart attack. ACE inhibitors stop the body’s ability to produce angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is a natural substance that causes blood vessels to tighten (contract) when it binds with receptors on smooth muscle cells of an artery. ACE inhibitors allow arteries to relax and expand (dilate), allowing blood to flow more easily. The dilation of the arteries decreases blood pressure, which decreases the workload of the heart. Dilation of the arteries also increases the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, making the heart work more easily and efficiently.
ACE inhibitors are also known as antihypertensive drugs. Some ACE inhibitors that are available are: Benazepril, Captopril, Cilazapril, Enalapril, Fosinopril, Lisinopril, Moexipril, Perindopril, Quinapril, Ramipril, Trandolapril, and Enalaprilat (these are not brand names).
Figure 1: ACE inhibitors
Figure 2: Angiotensin production
Figure 3: Angiotensin binds to the surface of a smooth muscle cell causing contraction.
Figure 4: ACE inhibitors stop the production of angiotensin.
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