June 25, 2002
Familiar Blood Pressure Drugs Find an Array of Novel Uses
By MARY DUENWALD
For 20 years, doctors have used ACE inhibitors to control blood pressure in heart patients. But now it is becoming increasingly clear that these drugs-with names like ramipril and capoten-can do much more than merely relax the arteries, allowing blood to flow more freely.
Results of the newest studies of ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, and of newer drugs known as A.R.B.'s (angiotensin receptor blockers), which work in a similar way-have shown that they can prevent heart attack, stroke and even new cases of diabetes in a variety of patients. ACE inhibitors appear also to be able to slow muscle decline in the elderly. The drugs' ability to provide all these benefits, doctors say, extends beyond their effect on blood pressure.