valsartan, Diovan

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GENERIC NAME: valsartan

BRAND NAME: Diovan

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Valsartan is an oral medication that is used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. It belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) which also includes irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), and candesartan (Atacand). Angiotensin, formed in the blood by the action of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), is a powerful chemical that attaches to angiotensin receptors found in many tissues but primarily on smooth muscle cells of blood vessels. Angiotensin's attachment to the receptors causes the blood vessels to narrow (vasoconstrict) which leads to an increase in blood pressure (hypertension ). Valsartan blocks the angiotensin receptor. By blocking the action of angiotensin, valsartan dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Valsartan was approved by the FDA in December 1996.

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Tablets: 40, 80, 160 and 320 mg. Tablets are scored and can be split.

STORAGE: Capsules should be stored at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Valsartan is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. It also is prescribed after heart attacks since valsartan may reduce deaths in patients who developed congestive heart failure after a heart attack. Valsartan also may reduce hospitalizations in patients with congestive heart failure.

DOSING: The usual dose of valsartan for adults with high blood pressure is 80 to 160 mg once daily. The maximum dose is 320 mg daily. Maximum blood pressure reduction occurs within 4 weeks. For congestive heart failure, the usual dose is 40 mg twice daily. The doses may be increased to 80-160 mg twice daily. The initial dose after a heart attack is 20 mg twice daily. The dose may be increased to 160 mg twice daily if tolerated without side effects.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Combining valsartan with potassium-sparing diuretics (for example., spironolactone (Aldactone), triamterene, amiloride), potassium supplements, or salt substitutes containing potassium may lead to hyperkalemia (elevated potassium in the blood) and in heart failure patients, it increases serum creatinine, a blood test used for monitoring function of the kidneys.

Combining valsartan or other ARBs with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in patients who are elderly, fluid-depleted (including those on diuretic therapy), or with poor kidney function may result in reduced kidney function, including kidney failure. These effects are usually reversible. There have been reports that aspirin and other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, etc.), indomethacin (Indocin, Indocin-SR), and naproxen (Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve) may reduce the effects of ARBs.




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