Zestril® is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drug. It is also recognized by its generic name, lisinopril. The drug is commonly used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. It is also prescribed to prevent strokes and kidney damage, and it has the ability to improve the survival rate after a heart attack.
ACE inhibitors can be effective at treating other disorders and are prescribed off label at the discretion of a physician. The ACE inhibitor class of drugs is highly valued because the drugs included are considered effective in combating a wide range of disease conditions with minimal side effects.
As an ACE inhibitor, Zestril® blocks the manufacture of a hormone called angiotensin II. The hormone is one of the substances within the body that causes blood vessels to constrict. With angiotensin II blocked, blood vessels remain wide and open, letting blood flow through with less resistance. As the pressure on the walls of the vessels is reduced, blood pressure is, in turn, reduced as well. Lowered blood pressure while taking Zestril® is also responsible for helping ease congestive heart failure because it lets the heart work significantly less hard at pumping blood throughout the body.
Zestril® has a minimal side effect profile compared with other drugs used to treat similar conditions, but patients and prescribing physicians must be cautious when using the drug in treatment. Pregnancy complications are a major concern. Zestril® is classified as a Class D medication by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning it is almost absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy due to research showing its risk of causing major birth defects. Women are advised to use adequate birth control methods when using the drug and to discuss alternative therapy options if pregnancy is planned. If pregnancy is suspected, it is advised that a physician be contacted immediately.
Side effects that may present and require monitoring when being treated with Zestril® include lightheadedness, cough, drowsiness, depressed mood, and nausea. Symptoms like chest pain and fever should be addressed promptly because they could be a sign of a serious reaction to the drug. Other precautions should be taken if a patient suffers from kidney, liver, or heart disease, in addition to diabetes or a connective tissue disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Patients should monitor their diet as required by the prescribing physician and be aware of other drugs that may interact with Zestril® like anti-inflammatory pain relievers.