Valsartan is an oral medication for the treatment of:
- High blood pressure in adults and children aged 6 to 18 years old.
- Treatment of heart failure among adult patients when ACE inhibitors are not suitable for them
- Treatment of poorly functioning heart particularly the left ventricular dysfunction as a result of a heart attack.
This medication is a type of drug known as angiotensin II receptor antagonist. It works by blocking the receptors in the body known angiotensin II receptors which involve in regulating the blood pressure and fluid balance. Valsartan works in two ways:
- It narrows the blood vessels thereby allowing blood to flow freely throughout the body. Valsartan blocks the receptor that angiotensin II acts on, as a result, the peripheral blood vessels widen. There are more space and less resistance in the blood vessels.
- Allow the kidney to function well in retaining and eliminating salt and water. Blocking the actions of angiotensin II increase the amount of fluid being removed from the body and decreasing the amount of fluid in the blood vessels. This lessens the resistance and pressure put in the blood vessels.
The combined effect helps lower blood pressure. Reduced blood pressure means the heart doesn’t have to work as hard as it could in pumping blood around the body. Untreated high blood pressure may cause the arteries and heart not to function properly. This can damage the blood vessels, brain, heart, and kidney resulting in heart failure, stroke or kidney failure.
Valsartan is also used to treat left ventricular failure after a heart attack. In this condition, the main pumping chamber of the heart becomes swollen causing the pooling of blood in the lungs.
How to Use It
Valsartan comes in a tablet form for you to take orally. Your dose and duration of treatment depend on your condition and how well you control it. For the treatment of high blood pressure, the dose is 80 mg to 160 mg tablet a day. The maximum dose is 320 mg a day. The maximum blood pressure reduction happens after 4 weeks of treatment. For the treatment of congestive heart failure, the usual dose is 40mg two times a day. The dose may be increased to 80 to 160mg twice a day. The dose for a heart attack is 20mg two times a day and may be increased to 160mg a daily if well-tolerated. Take Valsartan exactly as directed. You can take it with or without food. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush or chew the tablet.
In addition to taking Valsartan in treating high blood pressure or hypertension, other treatment includes weight control, changes in the type of foods you eat particularly those foods high in sodium, exercise, avoiding smoking and drinking in moderation.
Possible Side Effects of Valsartan
Valsartan is generally well-tolerated. However, like any other anti-hypertensive medication, it can sometimes cause unwanted side effects. Common side effects are:
- Abdominal pain
Other unusual side effects are:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Allergic reactions with symptoms like trouble breathing, hives and swelling of the throat or tongue
- Reduced renal dysfunctions
- Swelling of the soft tissue including those of the larynx and throat
- Inflammation and destruction of the muscles
What should I know before taking Valsartan?
- Use Valsartan with care among patients with:
- Moderate to severely decreased kidney function
- Severe heart failure
- Those who have had a kidney transplant
- Mitral valve stenosis or heart valve disease
- Narrowing of one or both arteries that supply blood to the kidney
- Mild to moderately decreased liver function
- Low fluid or salt volume level in the body
- Angioedema or swelling under the skin
- Severe congestive
- Do not use among patients with:
- Biliary cirrhosis
- Disorder of the adrenal glands in which there is an overproduction of the aldosterone hormone
- Rare hereditary problems of glucose-galactose malabsorption
- Children who are under 6 years of age
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- You will need to take Valsartan on a long-term basis.
Getting the Best Result from Valsartan
- Valsartan can control your blood pressure and heart failure but it won’t cure them. Continue taking them even if you feel well. Your blood pressure may decrease during the first few weeks of your treatment but it may take up to 4 weeks before you will notice the full benefits of the drug.
- Do not use a salt substitute containing potassium without informing your doctor.
- Combining this medication with NSAIDs in elderly patients or with poor kidney function may result in reduced kidney function including kidney failure.
- If you have a bile duct blockage, heart, kidney and liver disease inform your doctor.
- Valsartan can cause light-headedness, dizziness and fainting when you get up too quickly from lying. To prevent this from happening, get out of the bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes.
- This medicine can interact with other drugs. Inform your doctor if you are taking other medications including prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional and herbal supplements.
- If you develop diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating during your treatment inform your doctor right away as this can cause a drop in your blood pressure, fainting and light-headedness.
- Older adults may process this medicine more slowly. If you are senior, you may need a different treatment schedule or a lower dosage.
- This drug is not recommended for children 6 years old and below.
- Children with kidney problems who are taking Valsartan must use this with caution. Their blood potassium levels and kidney functions must be well-monitored.