Drug Information

Vasodilators for Congenital Heart Defects

Vasodilators for Congenital Heart Defects


Generic Name Brand Name
enalapril Vasotec
lisinopril Zestril
losartan Cozaar

How It Works

Vasodilators relax the muscle around blood vessels. This allows blood vessels to expand, letting blood flow more easily through the vessels.

Why It Is Used

Children with congenital heart defects  often have heart failure . Vasodilator medicines decrease blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through the vessels.

How Well It Works

Vasodilators are effective in relaxing the blood vessels, which allows blood to get to the tissues of the body more easily. 1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don’t feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine your child takes. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with the medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after your child takes the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother your child and you wonder if he or she should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower the dose or change the medicine. Do not suddenly have your child quit taking your medicine unless your doctor says to.
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Call 911 or other emergency services right away if your child has:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if your child:

  • Has hives.
  • Is dizzy or light-headed, or if your child faints.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Dry cough.
  • Headache.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Taking medicine

Know how to give your child’s medicine safely. Be sure you understand how much medicine to give and how to give it.

For help, see the topic Congenital Heart Defects: Caring for Your Child.

Do not give two vasodilator medicines at the same time if both have a side effect of lowering blood pressure. Ask your child’s doctor when to give your child medicine.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

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Follow-up care is a key part of your child’s treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your child’s test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.




  1. Madriago E, Silberbach M (2010). Heart failure in infants and children. Pediatrics in Review, 31(1): 4–12.

Last Revised: July 18, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD – Pediatrics & Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP – Family Medicine & Larry A. Latson, MD – Pediatric Cardiology