Generic name: Olmesartan medoxomilBrand names: Benicar HCT, Benicar
Benicar controls high blood pressure. It works by blocking the effect of a hormone called angiotensin II. Unopposed, this substance prompts the blood vessels to contract, an action that tends to raise blood pressure. Benicar relaxes and expands the blood vessels, allowing pressure to drop. Benicar may be prescribed alone or with other blood pressure medications, such as diuretics that help the body get rid of excess water. Benicar HCT provides just such a combination. It contains Benicar plus hydrochlorothiazide, a common diuretic that increases the output of urine. This removes excess fluid from the body and helps lower blood pressure.
You must take Benicar or Benicar HCT regularly for it to be effective. Since blood pressure declines gradually, it may be a couple of weeks before you get significant benefits, and you must continue taking it even though you feel well. This drug does not cure high blood pressure; it merely keeps it under control.
Benicar or Benicar HCT should be taken once a day, preferably at the same time each day. It can be taken with or without food.
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 Benicar or Benicar HCT.
Do not take Benicar or Benicar HCT while pregnant. Avoid both drugs if they cause an allergic reaction, and do not take Benicar HCT if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a sulfa drug such as sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. Also avoid Benicar HCT if you have trouble urinating.
Benicar or Benicar HCT can cause a severe drop in blood pressure, especially when you first start taking the drug. The problem is more likely to occur if your body's supply of water has been depleted by diuretics (water pills). If your blood pressure drops too low, you could also experience light-headedness, dizziness, and faintness (lying down may relieve these symptoms). If you develop any of these problems, contact your physician. You may need to have your dose adjusted.
Likewise, excessive sweating, severe diarrhea, or vomiting could deplete your body's fluids and cause your blood pressure to drop too low. If you feel severely dehydrated, contact your doctor. Be careful, too, about avoiding excessive fluid loss when exercising and during hot weather.
Use Benicar and Benicar HCT with caution if you have a history of allergy or bronchial asthma.
If you have congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease, lupus, gout, or diabetes, Benicar and Benicar HCT should be used with caution. Both drugs have been known to impair kidney function or even lead to kidney failure. They could also 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 Benicar HCT also has a tendency to increase cholesterol levels.
The diuretic in Benicar HCT can lower the levels of electrolytes (salts and other minerals) in the blood, especially if you become dehydrated. 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 immediately if you experience any of these problems.
Likewise, the diuretic in Benicar HCT can cause excessive potassium loss. Signs 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. Also check with your doctor before using a potassium-containing salt substitute.
No significant drug interactions have been reported with Benicar.
The hydrochlorothiazide in Benicar HCT may interact with a variety of drugs. Be sure to check with your doctor before combining Benicar HCT with the following:AlcoholBarbiturates such as phenobarbital and secobarbitalCholestyramineColestipolCorticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and prednisoneDigoxinInsulinLithiumMuscle relaxants such as tubocurarineNarcotic drugs such as morphine or codeine productsNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Naproxen sodiumNorepinephrineOral diabetes drugs such as, chlorpropamide, glipizide, glyburideOther blood pressure medications such as diltiazem hydrochloride, metoprolol tartrate, and nifedipine
Drugs such as Benicar or Benicar HCT can cause injury or even death to a developing baby when used during the last 6 months of pregnancy. If you discover you're pregnant, stop taking the drug immediately and call your doctor. Likewise, alert your doctor if you plan to become pregnant.
Hydrochlorothiazide appears in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. If Benicar HCT is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to avoid breastfeeding until your treatment is finished.
The usual starting dose is 20 milligrams once daily. If your blood pressure hasn't dropped sufficiently after 2 weeks, the doctor may raise the dose to 40 milligrams once a day. If you are taking a diuretic, your starting dose may be smaller than usual.
The starting dose of Benicar HCT is one tablet containing 20 milligrams of olmesartan/12.5 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide once daily. If needed, the doctor may increase the dose every 2 to 4 weeks until your blood pressure is under control. The maximum dose is 40 milligrams of olmesartan/25 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide once daily.
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
Dehydration (dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscle pain or cramps, nausea and vomiting, weakness), dizziness, low blood pressure, slow or irregular heartbeat