Background: Angioedema, particularly of the head and neck, is a well-recognized adverse effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Most cases respond to conventional therapy, including antihistamines and corticosteroids. Severe episodes may require epinephrine and intubation.
Objective: To report the case of a patient with ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema treated with fresh frozen plasma (FFP).
Methods: The patient is a 43-year-old, white woman who first received the ACE inhibitor ramipril in March 2002. After 3 weeks, she developed angioedema of her lips and fingers, which resolved with antihistamines, corticosteroids, and one dose of epinephrine. A low dose of ramipril was restarted 4 days later, which was increased throughout 4 days. In late August 2002, she developed severe upper lip and tongue edema recalcitrant to conventional therapy. Her C1 esterase inhibitor level was normal.
Results: After 4 days of treatment with antihistamines, corticosteroids, epinephrine, antileukotrienes, cyclosporine, and intravenous immunoglobulins, the patient's tongue swelling continued to recur and became more severe. Two units of intravenous FFP was given, with rapid improvement and no further recurrence of tongue swelling.
Conclusions: In our patient, FFP was highly successful in the treatment of resistant, life-threatening angioedema due to an ACE inhibitor. The benefit of FFP in this setting might be due to the effect of kininase II in breaking down accumulated bradykinin.