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Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Feb;1(1):23-8. doi: 10.1177/2042018810369437.

Therapeutic perspective: starting an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blocker in a diabetic patient.

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  • 1Ghassan Jarred MB, ChB, FRACP Department of Medicine, James Cook University, The Townsville Hospital, 100 Angus Smith Drive, Douglas, Queensland 4814, Australia.


There are extensive data confirming involvement of the renin-angiotensin system in microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes. Blockade of the system with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) is regarded as the first-line approach to managing hypertension and end-organ protection in patients with diabetes. ACE inhibitors are still the preferred agents for most patients. Dose should be lower with renal impairment unless an agent which is not excreted by the kidneys is chosen. Dose should be titrated up to the maximum tolerated to optimize end-organ protection, and intermediate-acting agents should be given in a twice daily divided dose when higher doses are used. Electrolytes should be checked before commencing, 1-2 weeks later, and after each dose increment. A modest decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and increase in creatinine often occurs with ACE inhibitors or ARBs. The agents may need to be discontinued if eGFR decreases by >15%, if creatinine increases by >20%, or if hyperkalemia develops. Cough occurs in 5-10% of patients taking ACE inhibitor, but not with ARBs. Angioedema is probably equally common with ACE inhibitor or ARBs. It is not widely appreciated that ACE inhibitors may precipitate hypoglycaemia in patients taking glucose-lowering medication. The combination of ACE inhibitor and ARB is not routinely indicated for either hypertension or end-organ protection. While patients should not be denied the undoubted benefits of these important classes of drugs, we should also guard against their indiscriminate use in patients with diabetes. We must also ensure that patients receive appropriate counselling and monitoring.


angioedema; angiotensin II receptor blocker; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor; cough; diabetes; hyperkalemia; hypertension; renal impairment

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