Treating High Blood Pressure With ACE Inhibitors

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Blood Pressure
Last Reviewed 02/17/2014

Treating High Blood Pressure With ACE Inhibitors

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are popular for treating high blood pressure because they work really well at suppressing a powerful enzyme that can cause arterial walls to constrict and drive up blood pressure. This keeps arterial walls relaxed, thereby lowering blood pressure and decreasing the work that the heart has to do.

There are a number of commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors on the market, including:

  • Captopril (Capoten),
  • Ramipril (Altace),
  • Enalapril (Vasotec),
  • Benazepril (Lotensin),
  • Fosinopril (Monopril),
  • Quinapril (Accupril).

Potential Side Effects of ACE Inhibitors

  • Chronic cough (the most common and distressing symptom)
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Decreased sexual function in males
  • Bone marrow depression
  • Liver damage
  • Increase in potassium levels

Because of these side effects, I always check my patients’ renal function and potassium level before prescribing an ACE inhibitor for treating high blood pressure. You should also make sure your doctor knows if you have a history of kidney disease, collagen vascular disease or diabetes, and whether you take potassium supplements.

Potential Nutrient Depletion While Treating High Blood Pressure

Nutrient depletion is another common side effect of ACE inhibitors. Nutrients that may be depleted in the body as the result of taking ACE inhibitors include zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and CoQ10. Consequently, you need to make sure that your supplementation program includes these nutrients, or modify your diet to feature foods that are high in these nutrients.

Good food sources of zinc include: oysters, beef shank, chicken legs, pork tenderloin, yogurt, baked beans, cashews, pecans, Swiss cheese and milk

Good food sources of vitamin B6 include: potatoes, bananas, garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal, pork loin, mackerel, snapper, wheat germ and walnuts

Good food sources of magnesium include: avocado, wheat germ, almonds, shredded wheat cereal, pumpkin seeds, cashews, spinach, potatoes, soybeans and peanuts

Good food sources of phosphorus include: yogurt, lentils, wild salmon, skim milk, halibut, beef, turkey, chicken, cheese and peanuts

Good food sources of potassium include: figs, avocado, papaya, bananas, dates, bulgur, skim milk, guava, cantaloupe and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Baked potato is the best source.

Good food sources of CoQ10 include: beef, chicken, trout, salmon, and broccoli

More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Treating High Blood Pressure

Want the scoop on other common prescription high blood pressure medications? Learn more about:

What’s the best diet for treating high blood pressure? Learn how the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet can help lower your blood pressure.

How does exercise help lower your blood pressure? Find out the many ways that exercise promotes healthy blood pressure and get tips on the most heart-healthy types of exercise.

How can you address stress to lower your blood pressure? Read about techniques to help you manage your emotions and daily stressors in an effort to reduce your blood pressure reading.

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