Lisinopril is a drug prescribed for hypertension and heart failure. Here’s what you need to know about lisinopril side effects and when to call your doctor.
Lisinopril belongs to a class of drugs known as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors, for short). Like all ACE inhibitors, lisinopril works by inhibiting an artery-narrowing chemical in the body, angiotensin. The result is less vasoconstriction — blood vessels relax and widen, lowering blood pressure.
ACE inhibitors have been in use in the U.S. since the early l980s, and there are now about a dozen varieties on the market. Specific ACE inhibitors are prescribed for conditions ranging from certain chronic kidney diseases and migraines to coronary artery disease. Lisinopril is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) in adults and children who are at least six years old and to treat congestive heart failure. It’s prescribed to improve survival in people who have suffered a heart attack, too.
Despite the long history of effectiveness and relative safety of ACE inhibitors, they can have side effects and potential interactions with other medications — and lisinopril (marketed under the brand names Pinivel and Zestril) is no exception.
So, if you are prescribed lisinopril, it makes sense to discuss any questions you have about how it may affect you with your doctor or pharmacist. And it’s alsoimportant to educate yourself on any side effects that could occur and should be reported to your healthcare team.
Most common lisinopril side effects
The American Heart Association notes ACE inhibitors, including lisinopril, are associated with these not uncommon side effects — skin rash, a chronic dry cough, and loss of taste.
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports dizziness, headaches, problems sleeping, and an unusually fast heartbeat can occur with lisinopril, too. And people taking the drug for heart failure may experience low blood pressure[DE6] (hypotension) and chest pain — side effects your doctor should be promptly check.
Other side effects, some serious, can develop if you use lisinopril with several other medications, so don’t take any drugs (including over-the-counter ones, too) along with lisinopril before talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
For example, when combined with diuretics, lisinopril can cause an excessive drop in your blood pressure, the FDA warns. Likewise, taking lithium (sometimes prescribed for mental health disorders) while taking lisinopril can result in symptoms of lithium toxicity. And using lisinopril along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, orNSAIDs, including the over-the-counter types like aspirin and ibuprofen, increases your risk of renal impairment and can significantly hamper the ability of lisinopril to lower blood pressure.
Lisinopril can have serious side effects
Women who are nursing or pregnant should not take lisinopril, due to potentially harmful lisinopril side effects. If you're taking an ACE inhibitor (or any other prescription drug) and think you might be pregnant, the American Heart Association urges you to contact your doctor immediately. Lisinopril can be dangerous to both the expectant mother and the unborn baby during pregnancy — causing low blood pressure, severe kidney failure, excessive drops in potassium, and increasing the risk of the baby’s death.
If you have a personal or family history of angioedema, be sure to report it to your doctor before you receive any prescriptions for ACE inhibitors, the FDA advises. Angioedema, a swelling of the lower layer of skin and tissue just under the skin or mucous membranes that’s sometimes associated with hives, can be a life-threatening side effect of lisinopril (and other ACE inhibitors, too). Fortunately, discontinuing lisinopril and treating the reaction with antihistamines and other medications can usually resolve the reaction.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases points out lisinopril is associated with an increase in liver enzymes, which is usually not a sign of liver problems. However, in rare cases, the drug has been linked to acute liver injury and even death.
Bottom line? Follow your doctor’s orders if you take lisinopril
The FDA advises working with your doctor to regularly check on several areas of your health while taking lisinopril. For example, lab tests can check for liver problems and to make sure the drug is not damaging your kidneys. And because ACE inhibitors can lower potassium levels, it’s a good idea to have serum potassium checked periodically, too.
If you have any questions about lisinopril side effects or possible reactions with other medications, contact your doctor. And seek immediate medical care if you have any of these signs of a possibly serious drug reaction:
- Chest pain
- Problems breathing or swallowing
- Swelling in the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or legs
January 03, 2020