Generic name: Candesartan cilexetil, HydrochlorothiazideBrand names: Atacand HCT
Atacand HCT is a combination medication used in the treatment of high blood pressure. One component, candesartan, belongs to a class of blood pressure medications that work by preventing the hormone angiotensin II from constricting the blood vessels. This allows the blood to flow more freely and helps keep blood pressure down. The other component, hydrochlorothiazide, is a diuretic that increases the output of urine. This removes excess fluid from the body and helps lower blood pressure. Doctors usually prescribe Atacand HCT in place of its individual components. It can also be prescribed along with other blood pressure medications.
You must take Atacand HCT regularly for it to be effective. Since blood pressure declines gradually, it may be several weeks before you get the full benefit of Atacand HCT, and you must continue taking it even though you feel well. Atacand HCT does not cure high blood pressure, it merely keeps it under control.
Atacand HCT may be taken with or without food. Take Atacand HCT exactly as directed. Try to take it at the same time each day so that it is easier to remember.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Atacand HCT.
Do not take Atacand HCT if you have ever had an allergic reaction to candesartan, hydrochlorothiazide, or any sulfa drugs. You should also avoid Atacand HCT if you are unable to urinate.
Atacand HCT can cause low blood pressure, especially if you are also taking another diuretic. This may make you feel light-headed or faint, especially during the first days of therapy. If these symptoms occur, contact your doctor. Your dosage may need to be adjusted. If you actually faint, stop taking Atacand HCT until you have talked to your doctor.
If you have congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease, lupus, gout, or diabetes Atacand HCT should be used with caution. This drug may bring out hidden diabetes. If you are already taking insulin or oral diabetes drugs, your medication may have to be adjusted. The hydrochlorothiazide component of Atacand HCT also has a tendency to increase cholesterol levels.
The hydrochlorothiazide (as mentioned above), in Atacand HCT, may be secreted by the kidney in great quantities; if you have problematic kidneys, there is a greater risk of toxic reaction to this component.
If you have bronchial asthma or a history of allergies, you may be at greater risk for an allergic reaction to Atacand HCT.
The diuretic in Atacand HCT can cause a chemical imbalance in the body, especially if dehydration has depleted your fluids. Your doctor will perform blood tests periodically to check for this imbalance. Signs include dry mouth, thirst, weakness, sluggishness, drowsiness, restlessness, confusion, seizures, muscle pain or cramps, muscle fatigue, low blood pressure, decreased urination, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting. Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Diuretics also can cause your body to lose too much potassium. Signs of an excessively low potassium level include muscle weakness and rapid or irregular heartbeat. To boost your potassium level, your doctor may recommend eating potassium-rich foods or taking a potassium supplement. If you think you need a supplement, check with your doctor; do not start taking one on your own. Likewise, check with your doctor before using a potassium-containing salt substitute.
Excessive sweating, severe diarrhea, or vomiting could deplete your body's fluids and cause your blood pressure to become too low. Be careful when exercising and during hot weather.
Atacand HCT has not been evaluated for use in children.
If Atacand HCT is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Atacand HCT with the following:AlcoholBarbiturates such as phenobarbital and secobarbitalCholestyramineColestipolInsulinLithiumMuscle relaxants such as tubocurarineNarcotic painkillers such as acetaminophen and oxycodone hydrochlorideNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxenNorepinephrineOral diabetes drugs such as chlorpropamide, glipizide, or glyburideOther blood-pressure lowering drugsSteroid medications such as prednisone
Atacand HCT can cause injury or even death to an unborn child when used during the last 6 months of pregnancy. As soon as you learn that you are pregnant, stop taking Atacand HCT and call your doctor. Atacand HCT appears in breast milk and can affect the nursing infant. You'll need to choose between breastfeeding or using Atacand HCT.
Atacand HCT is available in tablets containing either 16 or 32 milligrams of candesartan and 12.5 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide. The usual starting dose is one 16/12.5 tablet or one 32/12.5 tablet per day, depending on the medicine that you have been taking before starting Atacand HCT. If the starting dose is not effective in lowering your blood pressure, after four weeks your doctor may increase your dosage.
Your doctor may need to adjust your dose of Atacand HCT if you have liver or kidney problems. If your kidney problems are severe you will not be able to take Atacand HCT.
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical help immediately.