GENERIC NAME: spironolactone
BRAND NAME: Aldactone
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: One of the main functions of the kidneys is to retain salt (sodium chloride) and water in the body. In patients with heart failure and cirrhosis, increased levels of a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, called aldosterone, causes salt and fluid to be retained by the kidneys. (At the same time, it also causes the kidneys to eliminate potassium.) The body then becomes overloaded with salt and water, and this worsens the heart failure. Spironolactone inhibits the action of aldosterone thereby causing the kidneys to excrete salt and fluid in the urine while retaining potassium. Therefore, spironolactone is classified as a potassium-sparing diuretic, a drug that promotes the output of urine (diuretic) while allowing the kidneys to retain potassium. The FDA approved spironolactone in October 1985.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Spironolactone removes excess fluid from the body in congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney disease. It can also be used in combination with other drugs to treat elevated blood pressure and for treating diuretic-induced low potassium (hypokalemia). Spironolactone also is used to counteract the effects of excessive adrenal aldosterone production (hyperaldosteronism). Aldosterone overproduction can occur from a tumor in the adrenal gland or enlarged adrenal glands (hyperplasia of the adrenal glands).
SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of spironolactone include:
- irregular menstrual periods, and
- irregular hair growth.
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