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All about: Diovan

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Generic name: Valsartan
Brand names: Diovan HCT, Diovan

Why is Diovan prescribed?

Diovan is one of a new class of blood pressure medications called angiotensin II receptor antagonists. Diovan works by preventing the hormone angiotensin II from narrowing the blood vessels, which tends to raise blood pressure. Diovan may be prescribed alone or with other blood pressure medications, such as diuretics that help the body get rid of excess water. Diovan HCT provides just such a combination. It contains Diovan plus the common diuretic hydrochlorothiazide.

Diovan also has a stimulative effect on the heart and is prescribed for heart failure in patients who can't tolerate another type of medication called ACE inhibitors.

Most important fact about Diovan

You must take Diovan regularly for it to be effective. Since blood pressure declines gradually, it may be several weeks before you get the full benefit of Diovan, and you must continue taking it even if you are feeling well. Diovan does not cure high blood pressure; it merely keeps it under control.

How should you take Diovan?

Diovan and Diovan HCT can be taken with or without food. Try to get in the habit of taking the medicine at the same time each day--for example, before or after breakfast. You'll be less likely to forget your dose.

--If you miss a dose...

Take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Never take 2 doses at the same time.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature. Keep in a tightly closed container, away from moisture.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Diovan or Diovan HCT.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Abdominal pain, allergic reactions, back pain, blurred vision, cough, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, joint pain, low blood pressure, nausea, runny nose, sinus inflammation, sore throat, swelling, swollen mouth and throat, upper respiratory infections, vertigo, viral infections

Why should Diovan not be prescribed?

Do not take Diovan or Diovan HCT while pregnant. Avoid both drugs if they cause an allergic reaction, and do not take Diovan HCT if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a Sulfa drug such as Bactrim or Septra. Also avoid Diovan HCT if you have trouble urinating.

Special warnings about Diovan

In rare cases, Diovan and Diovan HCT can cause a severe drop in blood pressure. The problem is more likely if your body's supply of water has been depleted by high doses of diuretics. Symptoms include light-headedness or faintness, and are more likely when you first start taking the drug. Diovan HCT can also cause dry mouth, weakness, drowsiness, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Call your doctor if any of these symptoms occur. You may need to have your dosage adjusted.

Use Diovan HCT with caution if you have a history of allergy or bronchial asthma, or suffer from the condition called lupus erythematosus. Report a rapid or irregular pulse to your doctor.

If you have liver or kidney disease, Diovan and Diovan HCT must be used with caution. Be sure the doctor is aware of either problem. Also let the doctor know if you suffer from gout or diabetes.

The safety and effectiveness of Diovan and Diovan HCT have not been studied in children.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Diovan

Check with your doctor before combining Diovan with salt substitutes that contain potassium, or with diuretics that leave potassium in the body, including the following:

Amiloride (Midamor)
Spironolactone (Aldactone)
Triamterene (Dyrenium)

The hydrochlorothiazide in Diovan HCT may interact with a variety of drugs. Be sure to check with your doctor before combining Diovan HCT with the following:

Alcohol
Cholestyramine (Questran)
Colestipol (Colestid)
Corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and prednisone
Glipizide (Glucotrol)
Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase)
Insulin
Lithium (Lithobid, Lithonate)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil, Aleve, Motin, and Naprosyn
Other blood pressure medications such as Cardizem, Lopressor, and Procardia
Phenobarbital
Narcotic drugs such as morphine or codeine products

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Drugs such as Diovan and Diovan HCT can cause injury or even death to the unborn child when used during the last 6 months of pregnancy. As soon as you find out that you're pregnant, stop taking the drug and call your doctor. Both of these drugs may also appear in breast milk and could affect the nursing infant. If the medication is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to avoid breastfeeding while you are taking Diovan or Diovan HCT.

Recommended dosage

DIOVAN

High Blood Pressure

The usual starting dose is 80 or 160 milligrams or more once a day. If your blood pressure does not go down, your doctor may increase the dose or add a diuretic to your regimen. The maximum recommended dose is 320 milligrams a day.

Heart Failure

The usual starting dose is 40 milligrams taken twice a day. The doctor may increase the dose to 80 or 160 milligrams twice daily depending on your tolerance for the drug. The maximum dose is 320 milligrams daily.

DIOVAN HCT

The usual starting dose when switching from Diovan to Diovan HCT is one 80 milligram/12.5 milligram or one 160 milligram/12.5 milligram tablet daily. Daily dosage may be increased to a maximum of 160 milligrams of valsartan and 25 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide.

Overdosage

There has been little experience with overdosage. However, the most likely results would be extremely low blood pressure and an abnormally slow or rapid heartbeat. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

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