Benazepril is a relatively commonly prescribed drug in both human and pet medicine. It can be useful in the management of different conditions, including heart disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure (hypertension). But what do these different organ systems have in common? And how can the same medication help them all? Below you will find the answer to these questions and other useful information about this drug.
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What is benazepril and how does it affect the blood vessels?
Benazepril belongs to a family of drugs called Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These drugs block the production of a chemical messenger (Angiotensin II) that causes the blood vessels to contract. Consequently, when ACE inhibitors are used, the vessels remain relaxed and dilated, leaving more space for the blood to circulate. This results in a lower blood pressure.
For this reason, it can be used for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) or conditions where high blood pressure is particularly damaging (such as kidney and heart disease).
How does benazepril affect the heart?
When blood vessels are tight and blood pressure is high, it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood through those vessels. By dilating the blood vessels, benazepril allows blood to flow more easily, consequently reducing the workload of the heart. It can also help reduce the build-up of water in the body in congestive heart failure.
How does benazepril affect the kidneys?
One of the kidneys’ main functions is to filter the blood and select which components to keep (for example, protein) and which components to eliminate (for example, toxins resulting from the body’s metabolism). When the blood pressure is high, the rate at which the blood passes through the kidneys (glomerular filtration rate) is also higher, making it harder for the kidneys to filter the appropriate blood components and damaging the delicate membranes. When this happens, the kidneys start letting protein escape in the urine (proteinuria). For this reason, benazepril can be used to treat proteinuria in dogs and cats with kidney disease.
What side effects should I look out for?
Benazepril is a relatively safe drug. However, like with any medication, side effects can occur. If you suspect your pet is experiencing side effects from benazepril or any other drugs, you should contact your vet immediately.
The most common side effects of benazepril are gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or reduced appetite. If the blood pressure becomes too low, pets may experience weakness and incoordination. Less common side effects include kidney damage and increased blood potassium levels (hyperkalaemia).
If your pet is allergic to benazepril or any of the excipients in the tablets, they may experience a skin rash, fever, or facial swelling.
Interactions with other drugs:
You should always let your vet know of any drugs your pet is taking, including supplements and herbal remedies. Examples of drugs that should be used cautiously alongside benazepril include other ACE inhibitors (e.g., enalapril), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. meloxicam, firocoxib, carprofen), diuretics (e.g. spironolactone), drugs that cause a reduction in blood pressure (e.g. amlodipine, atenolol, hydralazine, diltiazem) and potassium supplements.