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Enalapril

Enalapril

Overview

Vasotec is one of the most successful blood pressure medicines on the market. It belongs to a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors which includes Accupril, Capoten, Prinivil and Zestril, among others.

The development of this group of medications almost reads like a medical mystery. It all started with the venom of a poisonous Brazilian snake, the deadly jararaca. Its bite caused severe hemorrhaging, but an extract from the venom was found to affect the kidney and ultimately blood pressure regulation.

This led to the creation of enzyme blockers found in Capoten and later Vasotec and certain other medicines which are revolutionizing the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Side Effects and Interactions of Vasotec

Vasotec can cause a number of uncomfortable side effects. Be alert for a skin rash, itching, sweating, an annoying dry cough, fast or irregular heart beats, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea, muscle cramps, vomiting, insomnia, fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, and headache.

Report any symptoms or suspected side effects without delay.

People with kidney problems must be monitored extremely carefully, as Vasotec can make kidney function worse. The doctor will check the urine to see if it contains protein. It’s wise for everyone on Vasotec to have their physicians monitor the kidneys periodically.

There are a number of compounds that can interact with Vasotec. In general it is important to avoid potassium supplements, including low-sodium salt substitutes.

Diuretics such as Dyazide, Aldactazide and Moduretic which preserve potassium can also cause dangerous elevations in potassium.

Other drugs that can interact adversely with Vasotec include lithium, aspirin and the arthritis medicine Indocin.

The gout medicine Zyloprim and the transplant drug Sandimmune may present special hazards in combination with Vasotec.

Check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure Vasotec is safe in combination with any other drugs you take.

Special Precautions

The very first dose of Vasotec you take may cause dizziness, especially for older people. Be especially careful until your body adjusts. When you first start taking Vasotec, 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 it 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.

Vasotec 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

Vasotec may be taken with meals or on an empty stomach. Absorption of the drug into the blood stream is not affected by food but may be reduced by antacids, which should be taken at least 2 hours apart from Vasotec.

Do not stop taking Vasotec suddenly, as this could lead to complications.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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