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Lisinopril Side Effects Can Be Lethal

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Blood pressure pills are perceived as generally safe medications. ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors in particular are considered highly effective with few adverse reactions. We calculate that at least 100 million prescriptions are filled for ACE inhibitors each year. Here is a list of commonly prescribed ACEi drugs:

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)

  • Captopril (Capoten)

  • Enalapril (Vasotec)

  • Fosinopril (Monopril)
  • 
Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)

  • Moexipril (Univasc)

  • Perindopril (Aceon)

  • Quinapril (Accupril)

  • Ramipril (Altace)

  • Trandolapril (Mavik)

Although we have frequently written about an ACEi cough (which drives many patients crazy because it can keep them awake at night, cause incontinence and make them miserable), there is another reaction that worries us even more. It is called angioedema and it can be life threatening. We just received the following message from a visitor to this website.

"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 and 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 who 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." Gary

 


Angioedema is a somewhat mysterious reaction to ACE inhibitor blood pressure pills. It can happen within the first few days or weeks of starting treatment, or, as in Gary's case, show up after years of taking the medication. There is no way to predict what will trigger such a hazardous reaction. When it happens, however, it requires emergency medical attention. If your airways close, breathing becomes impossible. That is why they were considering an emergency tracheotomy in Gary's case.

Angioedema doesn't always affect the face, tongue and neck, though. We have heard from other visitors that ACE inhibitors can affect the belly. Here is one poignant story:

"I was put on lisinopril for high blood pressure in January. That month I experienced severe stomach cramping and vomiting. I was rolling on the floor in agony. The doctor said it was most likely the flu but started me on two different antibiotics in case it was bacterial.

 "A few weeks later I had another attack with severe stomach cramping and vomiting. I went to the ER, where I was given IV pain meds. A CT scan showed small intestine inflammation partially blocking off my bowel. I was sent home but returned the next day with pain that was a 10 on a 10-point scale. The doctor said that all the tests had been done and there was nothing he could do. I was sent home with pain medication.

 "A few weeks later I was admitted to the hospital with increased small intestine inflammation and another blockage. I vomited and dry-heaved for 12 hours. I was released four days later with no definitive diagnosis.

 "I was told most likely I had Crohn's disease, but a colonoscopy was negative for Crohn's. I underwent extensive tests, including endoscopy, and all were negative. None of the doctors made a connection with the drug lisinopril.

 "After two months of missing work, three more ER visits and untold suffering, I found several other people who reported similar symptoms connected to lisinopril. I stopped the medication and have not had another attack. If you look on PubMed you can see reports on lisinopril and intestinal angioedema, but doctors don't think to connect this with lisinopril because it is not listed as a common side effect."


 

Ace inhibitors can be very effective medications for many people. As long as you don't experience an unrelenting cough, breathing difficulties or severe abdominal discomfort, you may be home free. No medicine should ever be stopped without medical supervision.

Here are some other side effects to aware of.

 ACE INHIBITOR (LISINOPRIL) SIDE EFFECTS:

  • Dry cough, uncontrollable cough, nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness, excessively low blood pressure
  • Kidney function changes, BUN & creatinene elevations
  • Headache
  • Digestive distress, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Tiredness, fatigue, malaise
  • Excessive potassium levels (requires immediate medical attention!), irregular heart rhythms, chest pain
  • Elevated uric acid levels
  • Sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity), skin rash
  • Angioedema (swelling of face, lips, tongue, throat)
  • Angioedema (swelling in abdomen, severe abdominal pain)
  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) requiring emergency treatment
  • Toxicity to liver or pancreas
  • Blood disorders
  • Potential birth defects if taken during early pregnancy
  • Sexual difficulties

Anyone who would like to learn more about non-drug approaches to controlling hypertension may find our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment of interest. There is also information about other medications for dealing with blood pressure problems.

Share your own experiences below. Those who would like to learn more about ACE inhibitor cough will find this link of great interest.

 

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25 Comments

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I believe we are our own worst enemy. We wind up taking all kinds of pills because of the way we live. We eat the wrong foods. We gain weight we don't need. We live a fast life style. WE allow everything to bother us and wonder why we are always going to the doctor. SLOW down and live a life as simple as you can make it.

If you have a job that is driving you crazy, either live with it, if you can call it that, or quit and get one that you enjoy even though you may have to change your life style.

I myself am trying to quit all of the pills they say I have to use because because I have this and that. BUT, I'm quit sure I am guilty of what I just explained. Is it easy? NO, because we are caught up in the love of things and the world as a whole and what it has to offer at what ever price we have to pay, and that is OUR HEALTH. To me the price is too high. How about you???

I tried it twice, because after the first reaction thought it might be due to a supplement I had just started. Hives-hives-hives, madly itching. Both times. Even the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. The second time confirmed it for me: it was Lisinopril.

Joe and Terry you have convinced me, I am quitting my lisinopril NOW before it kills me.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

Do NOT stop taking your lisinopril.

If you are experiencing no side effects, there is absolutely NO reason to quit lisinopril.

It is a very effective blood pressure medicine and has many benefits!

Only those who react badly (unrelenting cough or angioedema, for example) should discuss the problem with the prescriber.

Never stop a medicine with discussing it first with a physician.

Have take Diovan 120/70 for almost ten years with no side affects. Six months ago diagnosed with angioedema (face and lips swelling shortness of breath). Stopped taking all meds and vitamins, still had the problem. Given HCTZ for a few weeks, feet and ankles swelled and BP 140/90. Stopped all meds again, went to an allergist. Diagnosed with hives along with angioedema. Per allergist having angioedema and hives, better to have both.

Maybe never really know what causes the problem. Recommended by allergist to see endocrinologist, medical Dr. would not refer me to anyone. Back on Diovan, still have problem. Only thing different is Benadryl lotion and pills are always close by.

After being on Ramipril for 2 weeks, my husband began experiencing swellings in different places, one after the other: hydroceles, lips, fingers, and a rash on his legs.

Too much to be coincidental, so he told his doctor. Dr. said he was allergic to ACE inhibitors and changed his medications.

While my blood pressure is normal, I was given two drugs to take to keep my record! The Losartan has possibly been the reason all of a sudden my corrected vision (surgery) is now beginning to blurr... I now have glasses for distance which I only wear while watching TV. My Doctor now wants me to send him "proof". The Eye Doctor has not yet sent me my information yet, nor has the Surgeon.... This is why I am a Naturalist and do not generally go to Doctors.

I am only going to this Doctor because I had an injury from a door in my house and sought out a resolution... I am getting no where, so I now have a Neurologist who has told me that my injury has caused nerve damage to my chest. This is the only doctor that seems to know how to get to the source without the guess work that I had been experiencing.

I took Lisnopril for many years and every time I complained to my doctor who had prescribed it, about the constant nagging cough, he just prescribed cough medicine! He never told me it was the Lisnopril!

When the coughing was so bad, I wet myself, he prescribed for incontinence!

After 8 years, I changed doctors due to reaching 65 and going on medicare.(Former doctor didn't take medicare patients.) He took me off the Lisnopril immediately (explained that was connection!) and put me on Losarian; the cough went away in less than a week. No more cough equaled no more losing control of bladder so he told me to toss the cough med and the incontinence med!

My new doctor is so much better and encourages me to eat right for my health instead of a hand full of pills.

If you are having seemingly unrelated health problems, don't miss checking out the meds you take with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there is a connection. I wish I had done so, way sooner!

Ramipril caused my feet and ankles to swell badly. Nothing compared to other side effects, but I didn't like not being able to wear my shoes, so doctor switched me to something else.

After taking lisinopril (10mg) I was working in the sun and had severe dizziness and had to repeatedly sit down before I fell down. My voice got deep and weird and I felt terrible.

We ended up at our local fire dept. where they repeatedly checked my vitals. I stopped the medication and later let my doctor talk me into taking a very small dose of this medication. The same thing happened and months later after no meds I still have dizzy spells in the sun.

I was placed on Lisinopril after having bypass surgery and aortic valve replacement. After only a few days post-surgery I started a nagging persistent cough. I was under the impression that the cough was caused by side effects of my anesthesiology.

When it persisted for about a month, my primary care MD asked me to come in and bring a list of all my medications. When I entered the examining room, I handed the list to the nurse and she immediately pointed to Lisinopril and said that's what's causing your cough. When the doctor came in he confirmed the nurse's diagnosis.

I was scheduled to see my cardiologist at the end of the week and I brought up the cough to him. He agreed that Lisinopril was probably causing it and changed my prescription to Losartan, an ACE blocker. The cough went away in a couple of days. Now I am concerned about the recent reports about Losartan may cause diabetes.

sending just to get follow-up comments

After taking Lisinopril for awhile I started coughing and my hair started falling out. I started doing research and found others had the same problem. Most said that after stopping that hair would grow back. It did stop falling out but I don't believe it came back as thick as it was originally. It did a good job with high blood pressure but I would not take it again.

We eat the foods the USDA and AMA and AHA recommend. They blame US for getting fat. Everyone went low fat and a LOT of folks got fat. Then they call diets like Atkins, which is effective for most people, a "FAD" diet. They lump trans fats with saturated fats and warn us against eating saturated fat. What we do to ourselves is follow the party line as far as diet advice.

If you eat like your grandparents, you won't be so fat. Gary Taubes wrote "Why We Get Fat" and explains just why we do get fat. I agree about quitting pills. Doctors seem to have thrown out the "first do no harm" part of their creed. One popular prescription after another seems to be doing a LOT of harm. If your grandparents had heart disease, it was probably due to eating margarine because of economic and war conditions, and then doctors blamed butter and lard.

My mother never WOULD eat margarine, no matter what the doctor said. My father took his doctor's advice and ate margarine and skim milk. Mother's heart was good always, but Dad died of heart disease. He never had heart disease until medical advice gave it to him.

I was put on lisinopril and shortly after taking the med. I had dizzy spells, lack of concentration, then the dry cough began, fatigue, and then the inability for an erection. Saw the Cardiologist and they immediately changed my medication to losartan. Now I am noticing a change in vision. I had an eye operations about 18 months ago. Also, if in the sun over a half hour or so, I start to feel light headed.

Prior to this, I have always been able to be in the sun for extended periods of time without a reaction, other than a sunburn once in awhile. Since changing to losartan the earlier symptoms have disappeared. It took about a week and a half to get rid of the dry cough.

I have had severe side effects to 3 different drugs. Years ago after a blood pressure medication was added to what I was already taking, I began coughing. I had never had any type of allergy or reaction to any drug so at first I didn't associate it with the new drug. Unfortunately, neither did the cardiologist that I had been seeing for years.

Eventually I read about it and asked him to change the drug which he did with no further problems.
A few years after that I began having muscle pain in my upper legs and arms. Again, I didn't associate it with Lisinopril which I had been taking for years. It continued to worsen until the pain was almost unbearable and I had trouble walking.

Again I told my doctor--the cardiologist that I had been seeing for about 20 years at this point. He acted very caring but did nothing. I knew I wasn't a hypochondriac but was being treated like one.

After a few years of getting worse with no help, I went to consult a rheumatologist. The first thing she said to me after I told her my symptoms was, "Are you taking a steroid?" A week after I stopped taking the drug, my condition improved, still have some difficulty because, I believe, it did permanent damage to my muscles.

I continued going to my cardiologist (I don't know why!) and when I started having breathing problems I told him every time I went to see him which was every 6 months. He did nothing except pat my arm and said I was just fine. When it got so bad that I started passing out if I bent over, he finally did a stress test and ECHO. Nothing was wrong, he said as he patted my arm.

I finally did some research on the drugs I was taking although I had been taking all of them for years and there was the answer--lisinopril. I went to my primary doctor, she took me off of it and we started over with BP drugs one at a time. As soon as I stopped the lisinopril my breathing was normal.

After a few months of adding one drug at a low dosage at a time, I am now taking the correct dosage to control my BP without any side effects. No more lisinopril! I went from thinking I was dying to being able to do everything and feeling great. I won't be going back to my "specialist" anymore.
The strange thing is, I am an R.N. I am very trusting of doctors, especially ones who have been friends for over 25 years.

Let this be a warning. If you have anything that is bothering you about your health, especially if you are taking medications, be your own advocate. I feel foolish that I let this happen to me, but it happens slowly in many cases with drugs you have taken for many years.

I hope my experience helps someone else. If only I had read about these problems earlier I would have saved myself many years of suffering needlessly. LindaK.

The really sad part of your story is that to your cardiologist you are a success. You didn't die of a heart attack. This is part of the bigger problem. Each specialist looks at the person from one narrow point of view. If you don't die of prostate cancer you are a urological success even if you have no sex life and are incontinent. You are correct, we must become our own advocates and if we have a real complaint that is not being addressed, find another doctor.

I just noticed that I mistakenly attributed my muscle pain to Lisinopril. That was a side effect of a Statin drug, not Lisinopril or a steroid. I should have reread and edited. The Lisinopril caused the not being able to breathe. I'm sorry I entered the incorrect information.
However, it just shows that different drugs can cause problems and these were. other than the cough, serious problems.

Thanks for this article about lisinopril.
I am one of your Swedish readers and would like to know:

Could it be that all ACE-inhibitors have similar side effects?
Is lisinopril the most common ACE-inhibitor in the U.S.?

I totally agree with comment No. 1 - Torrence, June 7th.
I will be seventy the coming year and I don´t take any pills.
I think it has to do with a multi-medicated father and all the interesting books I have read over the years. Most of them come from the U.S.

Thanks again for your book - Top Screw Ups that Doctors make and how to avoid them. It`s easy to read and educating.

I am pretty sure that Americans are crazy about criminal stories and so are many Swedes. I just wish they would read Kathleen Sharps book - Blood Medicine. A book about blowing the whistle on a dangerous prescription drug - Procrit - a blood booster. A story from real life.

The best thing you can do to withstand the pressure to take drugs for this and that is to "educate" yourself. Some books I have "discovered" on your site, others on sellingsickness.com (?) etc.

I really appreciate your work!

Does anyone know of a natural (not synthetic) BP medicine? I have been taking 50 mg of Losartan and 2.5 mg of Amlodipine daily for several years. I have developed pain in my right leg, fatigue, low red blood count, constant waking during the night, among other problems. I was wondering if anyone knew of something natural that would control blood pressure?

Yes, I know of a natural way to help with BP. Make sure you do what I did and find the information about it by searching it out on your computer for your own satisfaction. In my search I found MAGNESIUM certainly helps with controlling BP. PLEASE, don't take my word for it and DON'T just quit your BP pills cold turkey. Wean yourself off as best suggested by your doctor and don't take to much MAGNESIUM while taking BP pills, it can lower your BP to far and that is just as dangerous as it being to high. Hope this helps.

has anyone been on lisinopril and/or other blood pressure medications and found one that you did NOT have a side effect? I have tried 5 categories that is categories of blood pressure medications and all of them make me really dizzy, unbalanced and side effects everything from tingling in arms to little pains in chest, sensitivity to light change loud noises and other things.

It has been 3 years and still can not find one that does interfere with my daily living. I used to be able to take long walks be out in the sun etc. Now I only have a good day once in awhile where I feel well enough to try to take a long walk.

Hi: I know what you mean. I have had to go to the hospital 2 times because of 2 different BP pills I was taking. PLEASE do this. Go on line and read about MAGNESIUM. I stated taking this and at the doctor's office my pressure was 122/70. The lowest it had been in decades. At the time I was taking a BP [reduced mg] pill but never got that kind of result. I am now even taking less BP mg and will go to the doctor next week and see what it reads then. If it's even close to what I want, I'll be done with ANY BP meds. With MAGNESIUM a warning is given that it can even give too low a BP count. That tells me it can control BP. 420 mg is the recommended dose a day. I'm taking 400 mg, so I'll see what happens. Hope this helps.

Lisinopril has caused severe headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and now sudden blindness. Cardiologist and primary doctor ignores complaints and I have had an increase of 20 mg. lisinopril twice a day for over a month. I am also experiencing muscle aches and pain in my neck and upper body.

I think I will leave my B/P problem in God's hands. To think I almost took my doctors advice to see a psychiatrist. I am over 75 years of age.

I wouldn't recommend anyone stop taking it if they are asymptomatic. If symptoms begin to appear, at least consider the possibility with your doctor. I had the "Maybe you have Crohn's" issue and mild angioedema in my tongue and throat that was not life threatening, but had me chasing a diagnosis for a year and a half now! I am only 1 day off the Lisinopril and on a steroid to undo the angioedema, so be informed and work closely with your doctors!

I have been an avid user of lisinopril for 13 yrs. With exception of the first 6 months or so
I have had nothing but bad feelings. I write journals and record everything that happens and my biggest attribute is looking back and reading what I wrote yrs. ago. For the most part not much has changed but still uncomfortable. All the side effects I have gone through over the yrs. are all contributed to the lisinopril. Sometimes they go away for a few days at most but then again most days they are always there.

My advice never start it unless you are in the deadly zone. 140/90 or less is not deadly. And not everyone feels good at 120/80. Some days you just think that this is your life now and you must live with it. That's what I'm trying to break free of now. Pills have controlled me for yrs. and now it's time to fight back. Be it naturally or not this stuff is dangerous and should not be given so freely.

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