Iron supplements may be a simple remedy for the common dry cough associated with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs, a new study reports this week. Scientists at Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, Korea led by Dr Kyung Pyo Hong studied six men and 13 women, aged 60 years on average, who developed a persistent cough while taking angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. Cough was defined as one that occurred during the use of this drug, subsided within seven days after its discontinuation, and reappeared 48 hours after its reintroduction. The participants then took, for four weeks, a daily morning tablet of 256 mg of ferrous sulphate or placebo. They documented their coughs during the treatment period and gave a blood sample at the end of the four weeks. The average daily score for coughing in the group taking iron was 3.07 at the end of the observation period and 1.69 after four weeks of iron supplementation. No significant change in score was seen in the placebo group (2.57 before v 2.35 after treatment). Eight of the 10 subjects in the iron group showed improvement in their scores, whereas only 1 in 9 in the placebo group did so and three patients in the iron group nearly stopped coughing completely. Full findings are published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association (August 2001;38:166).