Zestril is one of the more recent entries in a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. The development of this group of medications almost reads like a medical mystery, starting with the venom of a poisonous Brazilian snake.
The bite of the deadly jararaca caused severe hemorrhaging. An extract from the venom was found to affect the kidney and ultimately blood pressure regulation through the conversion of angiotensin from one form to another. This led to the creation of enzyme blockers in Capoten, Vasotec and Zestril which are revolutionizing the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Zestril is prescribed to lower blood pressure.
Side Effects and Interactions
People with kidney problems must be monitored extremely carefully, as Zestril can make kidney function worse. Even healthy people should have their physician monitor the kidneys periodically.
Zestril can cause a number of less serious but uncomfortable side effects. Be alert for skin rash, headache, tiredness, an annoying dry cough, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, low blood pressure, nasal congestion, heart rhythm disturbances and sexual difficulties.
Report any symptoms or suspected side effects without delay.
There are a number of compounds that can interact with Zestril. In general it is important to avoid potassium supplements, including low-sodium salt substitutes. Diuretics such as Dyazide, Aldactazide and Moduretic which preserve potassium also can cause dangerous elevations in potassium.
Other drugs that can interact with Zestril include other diuretics, the arthritis medicine Indocin, the gout medicine Zyloprim and lithium.
Check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure Zestril is safe in combination with any other drugs, or herbs, you take.
The very first dose of Zestril you take may cause dizziness, especially for older people. Be especially careful until your body adjusts.
When you first start taking Zestril, be alert for a rare, but serious reaction. Some people have experienced swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat which can make breathing difficult if not impossible. This requires immediate emergency treatment.
Another uncommon but dangerous reaction is a drop in infection-fighting white blood cells. If you develop chills, fever, sore throat and mouth sores contact your physician promptly. Blood tests are required to detect this problem. This risk is greater for patients with certain predisposing conditions such lupus, scleroderma or kidney problems.
Zestril should not be taken by pregnant women in their second or third trimester unless there is no alternative. It may damage the fetus.
Taking the Medicine
Zestril may be taken with food or on an empty stomach. It should be swallowed at the same time every day to maintain consistent levels in the body. Don’t swallow Zestril within two hours of taking an antacid, though.
Do not stop taking Zestril suddenly, as this could lead to complications. If you must discontinue the drug, your physician will instruct you in tapering off gradually.