Lisinopril is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure and to prevent kidney problems in people with diabetes. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
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What is lisinopril?
Lisinopril has many different effects on the body and is used to treat a variety of conditions. It belongs to a group of medicines called ACE inhibitors. Lisinopril may be used for:
- high blood pressure by relaxing and widening your blood vessels and lowering your blood pressure
- heart failure to help your heart pump blood more easily – this can help to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and swelling of you feet, legs and abdomen (tummy)
- diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) to protect your kidneys and help them to function
- after a heart attack (myocardial infarction) to protect your heart.
Lisinopril can work very quickly for hypertension (high blood pressure). If you have heart failure it may be a few weeks or months before you notice an improvement in your symptoms. Once you have started lisinopril you will generally keep taking it for life unless you have a serious side effect. In New Zealand lisinopril is available as tablets.
Lisinopril tablets are available in different strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg.
- Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you the strength that is right for you. Your dose of lisinopril will depend on what it is being used for.
- Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose and increase the dose depending on how you respond. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects.
- Lisinopril is usually taken once a day.
- Always take your lisinopril exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much lisinopril to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.
- Check with your pharmacist if your tablets are different to what you expect.
How to take lisinopril
- Take lisinopril at the same time each day. It is best taken in the morning.
- You can take lisinopril with or without food.
- Limit alcohol intake while you are taking lisinopril. Alcohol can increase your chance of side effects such as dizziness and light-headedness.
- If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
- Do not take potassium tablets while you are taking lisinopril, unless your doctor tells you to.
Precautions before taking lisinopril
- Are you pregnant or planning a pregnancy?
- Are you breastfeeding?
- Do you have problems with your kidneys?
- Have you ever had an allergic reaction with swelling of your lips, eyes or tongue (called angioedema)?
- Are you are taking or using any other medicines? This includes any medicines you are using which are available to buy from a pharmacy, supermarket or natural health store without a prescription.
If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking lisinopril. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions or it can only be used with extra care.
Cautions while you are taking lisinopril
Have a sick day plan
If you have diarrhoea or are vomiting from a stomach bug, or have dehydration from other causes, it’s important to let your GP know, as they may advise you to stop taking your lisinopril for a few days and start again when you feel better.
Be careful when taking some pain relief medicines
ACE inhibitors can be used to protect your kidneys from damage if you have diabetes. However, if you are taking lisinopril and diuretics (water pills), the combination of these with NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory pain relief medication) can be very harmful to your kidneys. It can cause acute kidney injury. This combination is called the 'dangerous trio' or 'triple whammy'. You have a higher risk of harm to your kidneys if you are also an older adult (over 65 years) or are dehydrated.
If you are taking an ACE inhibitor with a diuretic, do not use NSAIDs for pain relief. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a safer option. Read more about NSAIDs and protecting your kidneys.
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What are the side effects of lisinopril?
Like all medicines, lisinopril can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
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|Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product|
- Lisinopril may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting lisinopril or before starting any new medicines.
- Also, check with your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medicines such as:
- Anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac (eg, Voltaren Rapid)
- Ibuprofen (eg, Nurofen), naproxen (eg, Naprogesic).
The following links provide more information on lisinopril.
Lisinopril New Zealand Formulary Patient Information
- Lisinopril New Zealand Formulary
Additional resources for healthcare professionals
Lisinopril (ethics) Medsafe, NZ
Medicines and hyperkalaemia Medsafe, NZ, 2015
Hypertension in adults – the silent killer BPAC, NZ, 2013
Guide for initiation and up-titration of ACE inhibitors in patients with heart failure SafeRx Waitematā DHB, NZ, 2015
How low can the potassium and sodium go with commonly prescribed blood pressure medications? Tools for Practice, Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP), US, 2016
Electrolyte disturbance with diuretics and ACE inhibitors Can Fam Physician v.62(7); 2016 Jul