Improving Survival and Symptoms Following a Heart Attack
A heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) is a life-threatening event in which the supply of blood and oxygen to part of the heart is blocked for a long enough period of time that heart muscle dies. One of the complications of a heart attack is congestive heart failure.
For people who develop heart failure following a heart attack, taking captopril on a daily basis can increase their survival rate by up to 21 percent. However, it is not known exactly how captopril improves survival following a heart attack.
Also following a heart attack, for those with evidence of congestive heart failure based on tests but who have no symptoms, the chances of developing symptoms decreases by 22 percent. The chances of hospitalization for congestive heart failure are also lower in people who are taking captopril on a daily basis.
Diabetic nephropathy is a condition in which the kidneys become damaged due to the effects of diabetes. Over time, diabetic nephropathy can progress to kidney failure, a serious condition in which the kidneys fail to rid the body of wastes.
In clinical studies, captopril has been shown to slow down the progression of diabetic nephropathy, resulting in less kidney damage and a decreased chance for developing serious complications, such as the need for kidney dialysis, or even death.
(Click Diabetes and Kidney Disease for more information on the impact of diabetes on the kidneys.)
Captopril is part of a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. ACE stands for angiotensin-converting enzyme. Captopril helps to block the enzyme, which is normally part of a reaction in the body that causes blood vessels to narrow (constrict). By blocking this enzyme, captopril causes blood vessels to relax, which can lower blood pressure.
By helping blood vessels relax, captopril also increases the efficiency of the heart. This means that the heart does not have to work as hard and more blood can be pumped to the rest of the body. Both of these are helpful for a person with congestive heart failure.