For people taking enalapril, a cough is one of the common side effects that may occur. Like other angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, taking enalapril can result in a chronic dry cough. Based on data from clinical studies, an "enalapril cough" developed in up to 1.3 percent of people taking it for high blood pressure.
There are a number of possible side effects that can occur with enalapril, a medicine available as Vasotec® or generic Enalapril Maleate. One common side effect with enalapril (along with all other ACE inhibitors), is a dry cough that will not go away.
Enalapril is part of a class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors for short. Enalapril helps to block the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which is normally part of a reaction in the body that causes blood vessels to narrow (constrict). By blocking this enzyme, enalapril causes blood vessels to relax, which lowers blood pressure and helps with symptoms of congestive heart failure.
However, scientists also believe that angiotensin-converting enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of other substances in the lungs. When the enzyme is blocked, these substances can build up in the lungs, which can ultimately lead to a chronic cough.
The likelihood of developing a cough while taking an ACE inhibitor appears to be affected by a number of factors, including the specific ACE inhibitor and a person's genetics. Some ACE inhibitors can cause a cough in up to 35 percent of people taking the medicine.
Based on data from clinical studies, up to 1.3 percent of people with high blood pressure and up to 2.2 percent of people with congestive heart failure who were taking enalapril reported a cough.
For people taking enalapril, a cough can first appear within hours after taking the first dose, or it may develop months after they first take the medicine. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if or when a cough will occur. Once people stop taking enalapril, the cough also stops, though the amount of time this takes can vary. On average, it can take up to 14 days for the cough to completely go away. In some studies, however, it has been reported to take months.