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!