Study objective: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) are considered safe, but they are associated with characteristic side effects, namely cough and angioedema, usually requiring discontinuation. We perceived that referrals for these side effects have become more and more frequent; therefore, we evaluated the degree of knowledge on the safety of ACE-I in different medical categories.
Design: A questionnaire (13 questions) on side effects of ACE-I was posted to physicians.
Setting: Everyday clinical practice.
Participants: Cardiologists, allergists, and general practitioners (GPs) from the National Healthcare System.
Measurement and results: Three hundred twelve physicians were contacted, and 154 returned questionnaires that could be analyzed. Of the 154 physicians (mean age, 45 years) 48 were cardiologists, 52 were GPs, and 54 were allergists. The percentage of correct answers was low: 31.9% for cardiologists, 40% for GPs, and 33% for allergists. Thus, GPs provided a significantly higher percentage of correct answers with respect to the remaining categories (p = 0.05). The lower rate of correct answers (0 to 15.9%) concerned the time of onset of cough and the action to take. Cardiologists seemed to be less aware of the fact that angiotensin receptor blockers (sartans) can cross-react with ACE-I.
Conclusion: Overall, there was a poor knowledge of the side effects of ACE-I. This may account for the increased referrals for chronic cough and angioedema.