Valsartan (Diovan) to Manage High Blood Pressure
Valsartan (val·saar·tn) brand name: Diovan
What is it?
Valsartan is used for managing high blood pressure. It is also given to people who have experienced a heart attack to improve survival.
This medication belongs to the drug class angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). This means that the medication relaxes blood vessels by blocking certain chemicals that cause them to restrict, relieving any strain on the heart and allowing blood to flow easier.
The starting dose is typically valsartan 80 mg once per day. This may change depending on your reaction to the medication. Typically, the maximum dose for valsartan is 320 mg per day.
Doses for children under 16 will be calculated by the healthcare provider based on weight. Use is not recommended for children under 1 year old.
If one medication is not enough to manage your blood pressure, there is also a combination medication of valsartan with diuretic called valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide (or the brand name Diovan HCT) which combines two different drug classes to further reduce blood pressure.
Note: This drug is known to cause serious fetal injury and even fetal death. If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant while on this medication speak to your healthcare provider about a change in treatment for your high blood pressure.
Valsartan Side Effects
Common Side Effects
These side effects are mild and usually short-lived as the body adjusts to the medication. If any of the following side effect become bothersome or last more than a few days speak to your pharmacist or healthcare provider:
- Stomach pain
- Cold/flu-like symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, etc.)
Serious Side Effects
These side effects are rare but could indicate serious health complications. Speak to your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urine production/blood in urine
- Irregular heartrate and easy bruising/slow healing
- Allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of face/throat, itching, etc.)
Some medications are known to affect the way valsartan works or increase your chance of side effects. Speak to your healthcare provider about any current medications and new medications you may begin taking while on valsartan.
Some medications that may interact with valsartan are:
- NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
- Other medications that lower blood pressure or have the side effect of low blood pressure
Valsartan and Bananas
Valsartan may cause hyperkalemia (too much potassium in the blood).
Although it is still safe to eat a banana now and then while on valsartan, it is best to limit your intake of potassium rich foods and be aware of the symptoms of hyperkalemia:
- shortness of breath
- irregular/fast heartbeats
- chest pain
- nausea and vomiting
Your healthcare provider will also most likely monitor your potassium levels with regular blood test.
Valsartan and Alcohol
Alcohol can interact with valsartan to increase drowsiness and effect reflexes and judgement. Alcohol also effects your blood pressure and heavy drinking can lead to heightened blood pressure. If you choose to drink, be sure to not exceed the daily recommended limit of 1 unit/day for women and 2 units/day for men.
On average, the valsartan 80 mg price is $59.70 for a 1-month supply
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