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Blood Pressure Pill Proved Deadly

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Q. On January 15, my brother experienced an allergic reaction that made his throat and tongue swell. He was rushed to the nearest emergency room, but shortly after he arrived his airways closed up so the ER staff could not get a tube in for some time.

His wife had brought in his meds and it was quickly determined that the culprit was the blood pressure pill lisinopril. He had been been taking it for four years.

He went into cardiac arrest and was revived but suffered massive brain damage. He died February 8. You might want to warn your readers about this reaction.

A. We are so sorry to learn of your brother's tragic death.

Lisinopril is the most commonly prescribed blood pressure medicine in the U.S. At last count, roughly 77 million prescriptions were filled annually.

Although many people do well on this medication, some suffer from a reaction rather similar to your brother's. It is called angioedema and is characterized by rapid swelling of the face, throat, tongue and airways. Blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors (benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, quinapril, ramipril) can trigger this reaction, sometimes even after years on the drug.

Anyone who experiences swelling while taking an ACE inhibitor should treat this as an emergency. If angioedema occurs, the drug should be discontinued and medical treatment sought immediately.

To learn more about the pros and cons of ACE inhibitors and other ways to control blood pressure we suggest checking out our book, Best Choices From The People's Pharmacy. We have a very thorough overview of hypertension and discuss other drug options as well as non-drug alternatives.

Another option would be our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment.

Whatever you do to control high blood pressure, please make sure that the cure is not worse than the condition!

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33 Comments

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Is Lisinopril perscribed under any other names, as in a generic; and what are the names of any other blood pressure medications that can have the same affects?

I had been using lisinopril and it had worked pretty well for me for about 4-6 months, when my lip became swollen one afternoon, so went to the local urgent care. They gave me some allergy meds and was taken off the lisinopril. I had no other side effects or reactions during that time and it had worked better for me than verapamil for blood pressure (that I had taken before that made my legs swell).

Now I use diet, exercise and hydroclorothiazide, and am pleased to report that the blood pressure is consistantly below 120/80. Have found as I age, that I do not react well to prescriptions from antibiotics to the BP meds. Several times have reacted with swollen lip, eyes or the hives.

Thank you for your many home remedies and for a place for others to share experiences with others.

In about 1987, I also had an allergic reaction to lisinopril. I woke up in the middle of the night and my hands and feet felt like they were on fire. I was in so much pain, I could not even move because touching the sheets was so painful. This subsided enough after a few hours that I was able to get up and call my doctor. She recognized the allergic reaction and took me off the medication. For several days, I had to have help dressing and preparing food because of the pain. Since that time, my hands and feet have always felt very sore. My doctor ran a number of tests and never found anything to explain this reaction. She said is was an idiopathic response to the medication. Has anyone else ever had this type of reaction to lisinopril?

I have been taking Lisinopril for approx 2years. I haven't had any side effects from it yet. I talked my wife into changing to Lisinopril from Diovan. So far so good. This scares me about the swelling and throat, etc. especially the time lapse before any symptoms. Should we or should we not? My wife has had trouble taking medicines, especially the statins.

I've been taking Lisinopril for five+ years and have noticed few side effects. However, I've never felt good about taking it, and fought having to do so for a long time. My mother had major complications from untreated high blood pressure (she lost her kidneys and was on dialysis for ten years), so the HBP is a concern. I am in good health otherwise, exercise regularly, eat very well, am nearly vegan, etc., but can't seem to get my blood pressure down without the medication. HOWEVER, I too have found that as I'm aging, I do not react well to antibiotics and other medications either. I want to get off the Lisinopril. How long after the medication is discontinued am I still at risk of reactions? I won't stop taking it without first consulting my physician, however, I will be calling him today! Thank you.

I was interested in MLKB's story above and have a question--why is it that we are more sensitive to medications as we age? Even with well functioning organs I don't usually react as expected.

I take 5mg per day; do you know the dosage this person was taking?

to me there several questions that remain unanswered. what dose this man on? how long was he on this medicine? was he taking other drugs also and what doses? what other medical issues did he have?

I just read the article in our local paper today about lisinopril. I also have been taking this drug for about 3 years and now I am afraid to take it. Their must be other medicines that are not ace inhibitors (whatever they are), haven't researched that yet, but I will be talking to my pharmacist and doctor about changing. This really upsets and makes me nervous. How about you guys?

I would like to know if anyone has also had the side effects from Lisinopril as dry cough, hoarseness in voice by afternoon and the worst of it extreme itching. I have taken this med for several years but, recently I have had extreme itching. Little bumps come up all over my body as well as scalp and ears as well. I was on Bactrim DS and Bactroban cream by my internist, then I was on Prednisone for 2 weeks with fluocinanide cream, prescribed by a dermatologist. I am still using the cream but, I still have the bumps and itching even after my cardiologist took me off of Lisinopril and niacin supplement over a week ago.

On February 10, 2012, I experienced an allergic reaction that made my tongue and throat swell. I had just returned home from having dinner with my daughter and within the hour I was in distress. I noticed a tingling in the left side of my tongue. Within 10 minutes, one-half of my tongue had swollen up. My saving grace was that I got up quickly and drove myself to the ER.

They took me in and began treatment. It was not working. The swelling continued. Meds were not on the list for me. I thought that it was something that I ate. It was the same salad that I eat all of the time. Within an hour after I arrived at the hospital, the doctors had to put in a breathing tube. I did not remember anything until two days later. It took another two days to determine that the culprit was the ASE inhibitor in my blood pressure med.

I had been taking Amlodipine-Benazepril 10mg-20mg since last Spring 2011. The Benazepril was added to protect my kidneys because a little too much protein was detected in my urine. Never once did I have any reactions until that night. It was just like a volcano erupting. I am now back to taking just the Amlodipine 10 mg once per day.

Believe me, until I read this article, I had been trying to figure out what happened. I felt like I should have had a reaction early after the meds change. But I see from the article that for some of us this takes time to build up in our bodies and then 'boom'. I have also been referred to an allergist. I am now waiting on the results to determine if there is anything else that I need to be aware of. My primary physician is concerned because this was such a violent attack to my body, at my age (60 yrs), and that I never had any allergic symptoms before.

I send my sympathy and prayers to the family of the gentleman who did not survive. This also could have happened to me had I not moved quickly and not wait. I thank God everyday for protecting me. I shall never forget what happened. I am still recovering and am thankful to be back at work...I am a middle school counselor. But I know that it is going to take a while to regain all of my strength back.

This was very timely. My 44 year old husband has had these wierd reactions for years. Over 10 years ago, in Las Vegas, he ate a crab cake for the first time and the next AM woke up, mouth all swollen. It went on for a year or so, never determining anything. Then it stopped as suddenly as it started. Since then, he's had one reaction from penicillin and his entire face swelled.

Fast forward to summer 2011, on our way to the beach and he felt swelling happen in his mouth again. Its slow onset and he always feels it. He's since been to the allergist who felt it was his Enalapril causing this. His nephrologist changed him to Norvasc, all the while saying it was not the meds causing it. Its been 3 mos since his last reaction and today, of all days, he had it again.

Ironic that I read this in today's Atlanta Journal and Constitution. I am concerned even though he has slow onset and hasn't had to go to the ER since it started again because he can feel it coming on but I worry about it happening while he's asleep. He has since called his nephrologist to come in for an appt to discuss. I am so sorry for the family who shared this letter but thankful they did as it put the fire under my husband to do something.

How accurate are the electronic blood pressure machines? My BP at my primary care physician is generally in the 134/96 range. They want me on BP medication. I refused it because at my gynecologist, the blood bank, and the rheumatologist my BP is generally in the 107/78 range. Those are all taken manually with my arm supported, feet on the floor, sitting in a straight back chair. At the primary care, I am seated on the exam table with feet dangling (because there is no plug on the wall where the chair is) and rarely does the PA support my arm as she is also taking my temperature at the same time. When I questioned my doctor about this, the answer was that this machine is the same type used in surgical theaters and is top of the line. I was advised to buy my own machine and keep track of my BP at home. I had similar results - the highest I had in 2 weeks was 123/80.

Am I wrong to refuse the medication?

I had been taking lisinopril for several years when my tongue and lips began to swell in the middle of the night. My wife wisely insisted that we go to the ER. They gave me an IV (don't remember what) but it controlled it quickly and my Doc switched me to amlodipine (Norvasc) and I have had no further reactions. It was a frightening experience.

I found out that I had inherited my high blood pressure from my grandmother right after I had a large bump removed from my back in 2000 and when I was first prescribed some high blood pressure medicine one of the medications were lisinopril and right after I took the medicine my throat swelled up a little then I broke out in hives all over so when that happened I was taken off lisinopril & prescribed other high blood pressure medicine and that medicine has been working fine since then but it's so sad to read about the young man who passed away from having an allergic reaction from lisinopril that he had been taking for 4 years... so if anybody knows I would love to know how a high blood pressure medicine works for you for years then one day you have an allergic reaction from the medicine you've been taking for years???? What makes your body react different to the medicine after years of taking????

I have been on Lisinopril for a little more than a year. I have been plagued by a "not feeling good feeling" almost every single afternoon almost from the time I started taking the meds. I am on 10mg twice daily. I have been diagnosed with labile hypertension. I have had every test known to man from my toes to my nose.........has anyone else had a daily issue of just not feeling well for a few hours a day? It seems like a gastric type situation..........none of my doctors can diagnose the issue.

A few months ago, I upped my exercise regime and lost about 8 pounds (I didn't need to lose much more than that). About 10 days ago, I stopped taking Lisinopril - 10mg. So far my BP has stayed in the good range. I take my blood pressure several times a day to monitor it. How long before I might see some sort of effect from going off the medication i.e. spike in BP?

Thanks so much!!!

Yesterday, October 20, 2012 I had a severe reaction to the lisinopril. I took my meds as I always do in the morning. I participated in the Susan Kormen walk and returned home around 12:30-1:00p.m. I completed several errands out of the house and began to feeling a swelling, thinking I hit my mouth on something or picked up a germ from the race.

After icing for awhile and taking a benadryl, the swelling became more intense. I went to ER and after talking about my meds with the doctor, he diagnosed that I had a reaction to the lisinopril. I let him know I had been on it for about 9 months and never had a problem. But, he shared much of what I read in some of the other comments, it doesn't matter about the time frame.

He said stop the lisonopril, see your Dr. and he gave me prednisone, more benadryl, and a med for the stomach that works with the other meds for 3 days. This morning my lip is still very swollen. However, I feel fine.

I exercise regularly, and try to follow a decent food plan, however, issues still arrive. Let's continue to pray one for another and stay before the Lord earnestly for he can heal and deliver us from all these issues of life. Be Blessed. P.S. My 84 mom says, "Getting old is not for sissys'".lol

I had been taking both Lisinopril and Metoprolol for cardiomyopathy and had been on these meds for about a year. One morning I woke up and it felt like my throat was 'sore' (swollen). I tried to swallow some water and nearly choked on it. I got up and walked around for a bit thinking it would get better. Finally, my husband came out to the living room and asked if I was OK. I croaked out "hospital".

At the ER, I was rushed back because at this point I was having trouble breathing. I had trouble speaking. An ENT put a camera tube up my nose and down through to my throat and visualized the swelling and the paralysis of my vocal chords. This is the first time I heard the word Angioedema.

I was placed in the ICU for a day and taken off Lisinopril (and ALL ACE inhibitors).

The cardiologist wants to put me in the ICU for a few days some time in the future. He says that my cardiomyopathy needs the benefits I can get with ARBs since I can't take ACEIs. My special issue is that I do NOT have HBP. My 'normal' BP ranged around 90/60. Taking ARBs at too high a dose could kill me. Nice, huh. In fact, my BP overnight while I was in the ICU that day hit a low of 70/36 with a pulse rate of 38!

Last year in Jan. I had a very severe reaction to lisinopril. I have severe swelling of the face, throat, tongue and after medications not working I ended up having to have a tracheotomy as they couldn't get a breathing tube in. I was rushed to a larger facility where I ended up in intensive care for 11 days and was very close to dying. I was on dialysis for over 3 months and took me about 6 months to recover only to end up with a seizure that was caused by the lack of oxygen from the angioedema. Now have right-sided brain damage. I wasn't aware after being on lisinopril for 10 years that this sort of thing could happen.

One night after taking lisinopril my lips began to swell as if I had a fever blister. Within two hours my face was extremely swollen and my throat began to feel like it was closing off my air passage. I went to the hospital and spent the night in the emergency room with an IV and other meds.

The doctors identified that I had a reaction from the lisinopril. I still had some swelling a full 24 hours after the incident. I was told that I was lucky & that they were close to doing a tracheotomy.

I had taken lisinopril for four years before the reaction. I would strongly advise alternative medications other than lisinopril, and recommend anyone that has been taking this for any length of time, have a discussion with their physician.

The final advice I have is that if you have a reaction seek medical attention immediately.

thank God for this article started Lisinopril Tuesday 6/18/13. smallest dose possible. Went down hill from there. 2:00 this morning had severe reaction. My throat was swelling when I found this article. bout time we got to ER I could talk but with lisp the staff had been called and immediately started IVs of solumedrol sitting in observation now.

My wife Nicole suffered from cardiomyopathy and mitral valve prolapse. In June of this year after feeling short of breath we went to 3 different cardiologists and from a heart standpoint she was doing well (for her). Her heart was operating at 35 percent. After 7 yrs of not being on an ACE her usual cardio prescribed lisinopril. After taking the medication 1 time I woke to her the next morning laboring to communicate and breath. She was rushed to the hospital where she fell into a coma. The doctors could not figure out a diagnosis after ruling out everything under the sun and thus didn't treat. She passed away a week later.

I moved into a new area and had to get new doctors. The first thing she did was change my bp meds.. just before we were to make a trip 6hrs away on vacation. She prescribed Lisinopril... we got to our destination and a day or so later I became puffy and my feet and ankles started to swell. I called the doc and the nurse told me to stop taking it and just use the Atenolol that I was already using and double the dose until I got back from vacation. Went to the doc when I got home and she wanted to know why I quit taking it and I told her. She was pissed and asked what I did with the meds and I told her that I threw them out because I can't take them. She said she is going to re prescribe them and I should just take them and deal with it!!

What doc does that! That was the last time I went to her and I did not take that med again! I am now having other problems with pressure on the face, pain swelling of the lip and I am on Losartin, now my new doc took me off that med because she thinks I may have a reaction to it after a yr. So now what? I have had high bp since age 23, runs in the family, have done everything to stay off meds but just isn't happening. Isn't there something I can take that won't give me bad reactions?

I am sorry to read about your brother. I had a similar situation this morning. I have been taking Lisinopril for about 3 years with no side effects. A few nights ago I notice my bottom lip feeling like I was having a reaction to something but thought it was from watermelon that I had before bed. The symptoms were not bad enough for me to get up to check it out. This morning I woke up having severe tightness in my face and difficulty swallowing. I started taking Benadryl immediately with no relief. I received 2 Epi-pen injections and a Benadryl injection also. I am a nurse but had never heard of symptoms like these to Lisinopril. I am sure that my nursing career saved my life. I pray that patients will be made aware of these symptoms even though they are rare. So that we will not have to read about someone else losing their love to the severe reaction to Lisinopril.

Hi D. R.,

Dr. Stephen Sinatra wrote a great book on cardiomyopathy titled: "The Sinatra Solution". See if your local library has it.

Beyond that, you might find it of benefit to explore: omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin K-2, statins, and fructose.

High fructose diets cause ATP to become depleted, leading directly to energy problems with muscles, the heart being particularly at risk as the cardiac muscles have such a high need for energy (the cardiac muscles have the highest number of mitochondria of any muscle tissue).

And don't forget that statins inhibit the production of ATP. Perhaps the first thing to look at.

Hope this helps.

Russ

I have been on Lisinopril 20mg for 10 years, I started biting my tongue after year 9 years. I have always had allergies, so I was not sure why I felt as if my tongue did not fit in my mouth. I mentioned it to my doctor after testing my thyroid, she sent me to an allergist who believes my tongue biting and swelling may be due to lisinopril. I will know in 2 weeks and repost.

Funny how we are so afraid of heart disease we forget some people do not tolerate drugs well. Or can develop a severe allergic reaction to meds after many years. Our bodies do change. But do not disregard heart problems, take your meds, talk to your doctor and figure out what works for you. Heart disease kills so many, so do what you can to prevent it and educate yourself. Find a good doctor. Figure it out together!

I started taking Zestril for HBP after the birth of my second child (now 18 years ago). After a few years, the Zestril became Lisinopril. A few years ago, my doctor added HCTZ (hydrchlorathiazide) along with the Lisinopril. A couple of years after that, I seemed to always have a cough and had read some postings on the Lisinopril causing cough after a few years of use. I mentioned to my doctor and she changed my meds to Losartan (which is a combo of HBP med and hctz). I have been on that for a few years now, and while I haven't had drastic symptoms, I have noticed that my tongue seems larger than it was in the past. I guess it was kind of gradual and so I thought for a while that I was just imagining things, but it's a bit distracting and now worrisome.

My sister just died because of a reaction to this drug. Her throat closed so fast she didn't even have a chance. She also went into full cardiac arrest and it took them 27 minutes to get her back. She was brain dead after that. 49 years old and has been on this medicine for 2 years. Somebody needs to do something about this and allow people to carry an epi pen just in case of the reaction to counteract it.

She would be alive if she were able to have that. She went into the hospital April 18th 2014 and they took her breathing tube out and she passed away April 24th 2014. It's so sad to know that it could have been prevented. I am so sorry for anybody that lost someone because of this. Such a shame. Sherry was my big sister. Miss her sooooo much. We buried her today :'(

I was on lisinopril for about 2 months for high blood pressure. Early on I had the cough and such that many experience with Lisinopril. After about a month I was getting worse indigestion causing some stomach pain. Didn't think anything of it. Then on a work trip my shoulder was in horrible pain (no sleep that night) I have tendonitis in this shoulder, but it had never hurt this bad - thought maybe just overuse as I was on a business trip. A couple days later my right wrist and forearm muscles were swollen and in pain. Thinking I had carpel tunnel or something I took some Motrin, but that didn't relieve anything. The next day my stomach hurt so bad, then the following day I had itchy, painful, hive type things all over my scalp.

I had red spots on my hands causing my hands to swell and be painful. I couldn't open anything with my hands for a couple days. I had these red rash (smooth though) on my hips causing me hip pain as well, making it difficult to sleep. I took benadryl for a few days and went in for steroids to help with swelling. I felt for days though like my intestines, stomach, and bowels were swollen. Caused constipation and stomach pain. I got random swelling, like one day my finger would be swollen, etc. Weird stuff. It's been 5 days since I've taken a lisinopril, and I can't wait to get back to normal. HORRIBLE!!! I will not eat a speckle of salt, walk 3 hours a day and take anxiety meds, Meditation and relaxation.. whatever I have to do for my blood pressure. I am overweight, but fairly healthy for the most part.. Just a stressful time in my life.. What a lesson learned though that I do not want to be on BP medications for the rest of my life!!

My Wife started lisinopril 3 weeks ago 10mg twice daily because of high blood pressure. Last week, her Dr recommended that her dose be increased to 20mg because her BP was not coming down fast enough.

That very same evening she developed an unbearable itch, rash/hive like symptoms in patches all over her body. I took her to the ER that night and they really didn't seem to know exactly what was wrong with her other than some sort of an allergic reaction. They gave her benadryl, prednisone and pepsid and discharged her within 2 hours.

The following morning her throat started swelling with spasm like symptoms and the rash/itch was no better. She again went to her own Dr who advised her to stop using the lisinopril and should she get no better within a few hours to go back to the ER. Things got rapidly worse within and a few hours to the point where she felt her throat was closing up. Her hands and feet had also swollen. She was transferred by ambulance to a different hospital emergency center where she was seen by a dermatologist who said, he had no doubt that what she had was a reaction to lisinopril and in 30 years of practice he had not seen a worse case. The E.N.T Dr that seen her could not find a blockage, however he said the spasm like symptoms are typical to patients he has seen in the past who have had the same reaction to lisinopril.

She is still Ill and I am very angry. I had seen this website and just had to vent since, I'm sitting here alone and my Wife is laying in a hospital bed because of a little poison pill!.

My husband was on this medication for his blood pressure for a short while. When he began having coughing fits and shortness of breath, we finally found out it was the lisinopril. Scary stuff.

Hi everyone. I am a 44 year old male and I have been on Lisinopril for 9 months and night before last, my upper lip started to swell about 1030 PM. It was the size of a nickel by the time I went to bed at 1230AM. By 230AM yesterday, I woke up and my lip was roughly 6 times larger than normal.

I went to the ER and the attending nurse said Lisinopril before I could even tell her what happened. They treated me with a IV Steroids and kept me overnight in the ICU (Yes. The ICU) to make sure I didn't have any further issues like my throat and tongue swelling to the point that I could not breathe.

I left the hospital this morning after I was cleared and I was taken off lisinopril and put on metroprolol and I was given a tapering medrol dose pack for the swelling. I am taking a very low dose of metroprolol but my plan is to start back exercising to get the blood pressure down so I can get off the pills.

We live in a society that focuses on treating the disease rather than taking care of our bodies and doing or part to keep from using medication. I know that for some people, it does not matter how much you diet and exercise as you still have to take medication for something but current research suggest a major percentage of people on medication can come off of it if they changed their eating and exercise habits. After my scare yesterday, I will take my health more seriously!

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