According to MedlinePlus, lisinopril is a prescription medicine used to treat heart conditions, including high blood pressure and heart failure, and to prolong survival after a heart attack. It belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, Inhibitors. Your doctor may tell you to avoid foods or supplements that contain potassium when you are taking lisinopril.
Potassium is a mineral that is important for the proper working of your nerves and muscles, including the muscles in your heart. The normal blood potassium level range is 3.6 to 4.8 milliequivalents per liter, or mEq/L. High potassium, or hyperkalemia, occurs when potassium levels in your blood are too high, which is above 6.0 mEq/L. According to MayoClinic.com, hyperkalemia is a dangerous condition that can be life-threatening.
Lisinopril and Potassium
ACE inhibitors like lisinopril can increase your blood potassium levels, particularly if you have kidney disease. If you take lisinopril with potassium supplements, potassium-containing salt substitutes or large amounts of food that are high in potassium, you can develop hyperkalemia. A report describing severe potentially life-threatening hyperkalaemia resulting from taking salt substitutes and ACE inhibitors was published in the “Journal of Human Hypertension” in October 1999. Consult with your doctor before taking supplemental potassium with lisinopril, and have your potassium blood levels checked occasionally.
High Potassium Effects
According to MedlinePlus, high potassium may not cause symptoms. However, MayoClinic.com reports that you may occasionally experience some symptoms, including irregular heart rhythm, nausea, muscle fatigue, weakness, and paralysis. Also, your pulse may be slow, weak or absent. Some of the signs of high potassium can be seen on an electrocardiogram as a gradual slowing of your heart rate, called bradycardia, and a life-threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, notes MedlinePLus.
Salt substitutes that contain potassium include No Salt and Morton Salt Substitute, among others. Before taking lisinopril, tell your doctor if you are taking any salt substitutes containing potassium. When you are grocery shopping, check food labels for the potassium content. Examples of foods with high potassium include bananas, beets, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, lentils, milk, oranges, peanuts and yogurt, among others. Ask your doctor if you are not sure about the potassium content of a particular food.
- MedlinePlus: Lisinopril
- MayoClinic.com; Hyperkalemia; December 2009
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Lisinopril
- “Journal of Human Hypertension”; Severe Hyperkalaemia Due to the Concomitant Use of Salt Substitutes and ACE Inhibitors in Hypertension: A Potentially Life Threatening Interaction; K. Ray, et al.; Oct 1999
- MedlinePlus: Hyperkalemia
- Wausau Hospital Community Health Care; Food Drug Interactions; December 2002