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Is There a Connection Between Lisinopril and Hair Loss?

A man starting to lose his hair.
A man with a bald spot.
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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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There may be a connection between lisinopril and hair loss, but it is difficult to determine because very few patients taking lisinopril report hair loss and hair loss is common in the general population. Clinical trials have shown that less than one percent of patients taking the drug reported hair loss, but despite this, many other factors could be at work. This makes it difficult to determine whether the drug caused the hair loss, or whether the loss was a result of genetic predisposition or even stress. Regardless of this difficulty, many people are still convinced that lisinopril and hair loss are related and believe that their hair loss coincided with taking the drug.

Possible rare side effects of lisinopril include weight loss, insomnia, and hair loss. It is important to note, however, that fewer than one in 100 people will suffer any of these rare side effects. Common side effects of lisinopril include fatigue, stomach pain, and chest pain. Unlike many side effects caused by drug treatments, the precise reason lisinopril can cause hair loss is unknown. This effect is believed to happen in both men and women, but should stop when the treatment is stopped, and other drugs can then be used to stimulate new hair growth.

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Generally speaking, drugs cause hair loss by affecting the normal cycle of hair growth. The two types of drug-induced hair loss are called telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium. These are named after the part of the hair cycle the drug interferes with, either the telogen phase, where the hair rests before falling out or the anagen phase, which is characterized by hair growth. Telogen effluvium is the most common type, and is the type generally associated with drugs, such as lisinopril, which are used to treat high blood pressure. Lisinopril and hair loss are therefore believed to be related because the drug interferes with the telogen phase of hair growth, and symptoms should begin between two to four months of taking the treatment.

The small percentage of patients reporting a link between lisinopril and hair loss doesn’t mean that the two are unconnected, but does raise many issues. The most prevalent of these issues is that hair loss is common in both the male and female populations. Research has shown that genetic baldness affects 50 percent of men and 13 percent of women prior to the menopause. The figure for women increases with the onset of the menopause and increasing age. These facts indicate that the apparent link between lisinopril and hair loss is less pronounced than natural hair loss, and that natural hair loss may therefore be responsible for the “side effect.”

Lisinopril belongs to a classification of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are primarily used to treat high blood pressure. They work by inhibiting the action of the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which is responsible for the production of angiotensin II. This chemical causes the muscles that surround the walls of arteries to contract, which makes them narrower and in turn can increase blood pressure. By preventing the production of angiotensin II, lisinopril relaxes the muscles around the arteries, which reduces blood pressure. This means that the heart gets more oxygen and blood, which makes it stronger and more able to pump blood.

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