Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor-induced angioedema–a dangerous new epidemic

Angioedema is a sudden localised and often asymmetric swelling of the skin or mucous membranes caused by transient increased endothelial permeability causing plasma extravasation. In the last decades the incidence of severe angioedema involving the upper airways and even fatal outcome due to asphyxia has increased. This is mainly due to pharmaceuticals such as angiotensin converting enzyme-inhibitors, which are extensively used worldwide. Some aspects of the pathophysiology have been elucidated and the vasoactive molecule bradykinin is shown to be one of the main causative agents. The diagnosis is often delayed and traditional treatment usually ineffective. Complement C1 inhibitor concentrate and bradykinin receptor antagonists, normally used to treat patients with hereditary angioedema, have shown good results when used in patients with bradykinin-mediated angioedema. This review discusses the disease, prognosis and treatment options.

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