Zestril Side Effects

Generic Name: lisinopril

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug lisinopril. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Zestril.

It is possible that some side effects of Zestril may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

For the Consumer

Applies to lisinopril: oral tablet

As well as its needed effects, lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril) may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking lisinopril, check with your doctor immediately:

More common
  • Blurred vision
  • cloudy urine
  • confusion
  • decrease in urine output or decrease in urine-concentrating ability
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • sweating
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • common cold
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • headache
  • loss of voice
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • Arm, back, or jaw pain
  • chest discomfort, tightness, or heaviness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches and pains
  • shivering
  • trouble sleeping

Some lisinopril side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

Less common
  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • rash
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • muscle cramps
  • sensation of spinning
  • stomach discomfort or upset
  • swelling

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to lisinopril: oral tablet


Hypotension is most likely in patients who are sodium and intravascular volume depleted. In large studies, patients have reported "heart pounding" and chest pain, although the relationship to lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril) is questionable.

A possible relationship between lisinopril use and a case of penile angioedema has been published. After six days of lisinopril therapy, a 74-year-old patient complained of penile "swelling". Lisinopril was suspected as the cause of the angioedema and was discontinued. The localized angioedema resolved within a few days following discontinuation.

Cardiovascular side effects have included hypotension (0.6% to 1.0% of patients) and angioneurotic edema (0.2% of patients). Angina pectoris, orthostatic hypotension, and palpitations are each reported in approximately 1% of patients. Patients with heart failure are more likely to experience hypotension. In one study the incidence of hypotension-related undesirable side effects was only 0.6% compared to 4% in patients with CHF.


Renal side effects have included new (usually mild) or worsened renal insufficiency which has rarely developed during ACE inhibitor therapy. Patients with renal artery stenosis should not receive lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril) or any other ACE inhibitor. Proteinuria has also been reported.

Patients with renal artery stenosis maintain glomerular filtration by efferent arteriolar vasoconstriction, which is blocked by lisinopril.

Although lisinopril may be associated with a rise in serum creatinine and BUN, GFR has been shown to remain unchanged or improve in most patients.

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included dizziness in up to 13% and headache in up to 6% of patients. Paresthesias are reported in 1% of patients.


Respiratory side effects have included a reversible dry cough in up to 3% of patients. Cough has appeared as common in women as men, but in some reviews women have reported cough more often than men. Other respiratory system side effects are limited to stridor secondary to hypersensitivity to lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril)

A retrospective study has revealed a significantly higher incidence of discontinuation of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor therapy due to cough among black patients compared with non-black patients (9.6% vs. 2.4%).

Several agents have been studied for treating cough with ACE inhibitors. No long term trials exist to allow a definitive treatment option. Cromolyn has the most data showing some benefit. Other agents studied include baclofen, theophylline, sulindac, and benzonatate.


A rise in serum potassium is due to a mild reduction in serum aldosterone concentrations.

Metabolic side effects are unusual and have included a moderate, often clinically insignificant rise in serum potassium. Lisinopril and other ACE inhibitors appear to have a beneficial effect on plasma insulin levels. Cases of hypoglycemia have been reported in diabetic patients receiving ACE inhibitors when concurrently treated with oral antidiabetic agents or insulin.


Gastrointestinal side effects have included diarrhea (4%), nausea (3%), and vomiting (1%). Taste disturbances and constipation are reported in less than 1% of patients. Acute pancreatitis has been associated with lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril)


In at least two cases of lisinopril-associated angioedema of the face and neck, the affected patients did not have a history of reactive airways disease. Patients with intestinal angioedema generally present with abdominal pain (with or without nausea or vomiting) and in some cases there was no prior history of facial angioedema, and C-1 esterase levels were normal. These symptoms resolve after stopping the ACE inhibitor.

Hypersensitivity reactions to lisinopril, as with some other angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, may be life-threatening. Angioedema occurs in approximately 0.2% of patients. Angioedema of the face, extremities, lips, tongue, glottis and/or pharynx have been reported rarely in patients receiving ACE inhibitors. Obstructive laryngeal and glossal angioedema due to lisinopril is a rare, but potentially fatal reaction. In addition, intestinal angioedema has been reported in patients treated with ACE inhibitors. It is recommended that any patient with dyspnea, dysphagia, or significant facial angioedema stop therapy immediately and avoid ACE inhibitor therapy in general.


Dermatologic side effects have included rare instances of urticaria, alopecia, herpes zoster, photosensitivity, skin lesions, skin infections, pemphigus, erythema, psoriasis, and rare cases of other severe skin reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, (causal relationship has not been established).


Hematologic side effects, including neutropenia and fatal aplastic anemia, have rarely been associated with lisinopril (the active ingredient contained in Zestril) or other ACE inhibitors. A case of Henoch-Schonlein purpura complicated by polyarthritis has been associated with lisinopril.

A 64-year-old woman with aortic insufficiency, coronary artery disease, and atrial fibrillation developed fever and anorexia associated with pancytopenia within seven days after starting furosemide, digoxin, warfarin, and lisinopril. She died despite intensive supportive measures. Autopsy revealed bone marrow aplasia and changes consistent with hepatorenal failure. There was no evidence of infection or autoantibody disease. At least one other (reversible) case has been reported.


Although angiotensin converting enzymes are found in many areas of the central nervous system, the mechanism for ACE inhibitor-induced mania is unclear. They are lipophilic and are not known to cross the blood-brain barrier. ACE inhibitors have been shown to alter the metabolism of enkephalins and modulate cholinergic activity. Interestingly, one case of captopril-induced hallucinations was successfully treated with naloxone.

Psychiatric complications have rarely been attributed to use of ACE inhibitors, including memory impairment, confusion, somnolence, irritability, and nervousness. A single case of mania has been associated with the use of lisinopril in an elderly woman who had previously tolerated enalapril.


Hepatic side effects associated with the use of ACE inhibitors have included a rare syndrome that begins with cholestatic jaundice and progresses to fulminant hepatic necrosis and (sometimes) death. Experts recommend discontinuation of therapy with this drug if jaundice or markedly elevated hepatic serum enzymes develop.


Endocrine side effects including case reports indicating development of the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone have been reported.


Other side effects have included olfactory disturbance.

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