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Valsartan

Diovan HCT

Diovan HCT, a combination of valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide, is an FDA-approved medication designed to manage hypertension. Valsartan, an angiotensin II receptor blocker, relaxes blood vessels, while hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic, eliminates excess salt and water. Together, they effectively lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease and stroke risks. Available in several strengths—ranging from 80 mg/12.5 mg to 320 mg/25 mg—Diovan HCT accommodates different dosing requirements. It should be taken once daily, with or without food, and tablets must be swallowed whole. Potential side effects include dizziness, headache, and minor cold symptoms. More serious risks involve kidney problems, allergic reactions, and electrolyte imbalances. Diovan HCT is not recommended during pregnancy.   

Product Overview

Diovan HCT combines two active ingredients, valsartan and hydrochlorothiazide, to effectively manage high blood pressure, a common condition that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke if left untreated. Valsartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker that relaxes and widens blood vessels, improving blood flow. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic that helps the body eliminate excess salt and water through urine. Together, they help lower blood pressure to safer levels. Diovan HCT is FDA-approved for the treatment of hypertension, ensuring it meets safety and efficacy standards for managing this condition.

Diovan HCT is available in several strengths, allowing for flexible dosing to meet individual medical needs: 80 mg/12.5 mg, 160 mg/12.5 mg, 160 mg/25 mg, 320 mg/12.5 mg, and 320 mg/25 mg of valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide respectively. The typical starting dose for adults is 160 mg/12.5 mg once daily, with the potential to adjust based on the patient’s response. This medication should be taken at the same time each day, with or without food, and the tablet should be swallowed whole. It is primarily prescribed for adults and not recommended for use during pregnancy due to the risk of harm to the unborn baby.

Side effects may include dizziness, headache, and symptoms of a cold such as a stuffy nose or sore throat. Serious side effects include kidney issues, severe allergic reactions, and changes in blood potassium levels. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as remembered unless it is close to the time for the next dose. Diovan HCT should be stored at room temperature, away from moisture and light. Patients are advised to discuss their full medical history with their healthcare provider and mention any other medications they are taking to avoid potential drug interactions. Regular monitoring by a healthcare provider is essential to manage side effects and adjust the treatment as needed.

Uses of Diovan HCT 

  • High blood pressure

How to Use Diovan HCT?

Dosage

Diovan comes in the form of tablets and in multiple dosage strengths listed following:

Strengths:

  • Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide 80 mg/12.5 mg
  • Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide 160 mg/12.5 mg
  • Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide 160 mg/25 mg
  • Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide 320 mg/12.5 mg
  • Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide 320 mg/25 mg

Recommended Dosage for Different Patients

  • For Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): The typical starting dose is valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide 160 mg/12.5 mg taken orally once daily. The dose may be adjusted after a few weeks, depending on the response and tolerance. The maximum recommended dose is valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide 320 mg/25 mg once daily.

[Note: Remember these recommendations may vary depending on person to person. Discuss it with your doctor, and they’ll customize your dosage accordingly.]

How to Take It?

  • Take Diovan HCT at the same time each day to maintain an even level of medication in your body.
  • You can take Diovan HCT with or without food. If you experience stomach upset, try taking it with food.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with a glass of water. Do not crush, chew, or break the tablet.
  • Follow the dosage prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not adjust the dose or frequency without consulting them.
  • Keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your blood pressure and adjust the medication as needed.
  • Since hydrochlorothiazide can cause dehydration, ensure you drink adequate fluids unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

[Note: Your doctor will decide the right amount for you based on your condition, following guidelines and studies on the drug. They’ll adjust it as needed over time.]

How Does Diovan HCT Work?

Diovan HCT combines valsartan, an angiotensin II receptor blocker, with hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic. Valsartan works by relaxing blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure, while hydrochlorothiazide helps eliminate excess sodium and water through urine, reducing blood volume. Together, these actions effectively lower blood pressure and ease the workload on the heart. This dual mechanism makes Diovan HCT a potent treatment for hypertension, helping to prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems associated with high blood pressure.

Important Safety Information

Side Effects

Common side effects of this medication may include:

  • Cold symptoms include a stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Mild side effects of this medication may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (lack of energy)
  • Headache
  • Joint pain (arthralgia)
  • Viral infections, such as the flu
  • Cough

Serious side effects of this medication may include:

  • Kidney Issues: Changes in kidney function may manifest as swelling in the hands and feet, reduced urine output, and shortness of breath.
  • Allergic Reactions.
  • Hyperkalemia: Elevated potassium levels.
  • Hypotension: Low blood pressure.
  • Risks to Pregnancy: Potential harm to a developing fetus or risk of miscarriage.

[Note: Remember, this list may not cover all possible side effects. Always consult with your healthcare giver for medical advice about side effects.]

Warnings

  • Pregnancy Risks: Diovan HCT should not be taken during pregnancy as it can cause serious harm to unborn babies, including low blood pressure, kidney issues, low platelets, jaundice, and even death. If you become pregnant while on Diovan HCT, discontinue use immediately and contact your healthcare provider for safer alternatives.
  • Low Blood Pressure: This medication can cause low blood pressure, leading to dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when rising from a seated or lying position. If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor to adjust the dosage or explore other treatment options.
  • Kidney Function: Diovan HCT can impair kidney function, particularly in individuals with severe heart failure or pre-existing kidney issues, or those taking certain medications. Regular lab tests may be necessary to monitor kidney function. Symptoms like reduced urine output or swelling should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Severe Allergic Reactions: Although rare, severe allergic reactions to Diovan HCT are possible. Symptoms such as swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: This medication can alter electrolyte levels, potentially causing symptoms like nausea, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, or excessive thirst. Regular blood tests to monitor electrolyte levels are recommended.
  • Vision Changes: If you experience any changes in vision or eye pain after starting Diovan HCT, stop the medication and contact your healthcare provider immediately to prevent potential permanent blindness.
  • Lupus Flare-Ups: Hydrochlorothiazide, a component of Diovan HCT, may cause a flare-up in patients with a history of lupus. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
  • Drug Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are taking as Diovan HCT may interact with drugs like lithium (Lithobid), NSAIDs, or carbamazepine (Tegretol), affecting how they work or how Diovan HCT works in your body.

Precautions

  • Allergy Alert: Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to valsartan or hydrochlorothiazide or if you have any other allergies. The product may contain inactive ingredients, causing allergic reactions.
  • Medical History: Disclose your full medical history, particularly if you have conditions like gout, kidney disease, liver disease, lupus, dehydration, high potassium levels, or a history of skin cancer.
  • Dizziness Risk: This drug may cause dizziness. Avoid alcohol and marijuana as they can increase this effect. Do not drive or operate machinery until you can safely perform such activities.
  • Hydration: Severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting can lead to dehydration and lightheadedness. Report severe cases to your doctor and drink plenty of fluids unless advised otherwise.
  • Blood Sugar Monitoring: If diabetic, monitor your blood sugar regularly. This drug may affect blood sugar levels, necessitating adjustments to diabetes medications, diet, or exercise routines.
  • Sun Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to the sun and a potential increased risk of skin cancer from long-term use. Limit sun exposure, avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, and use sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors. Report any new or changed skin lesions or sunburns to your doctor.
  • Potassium Levels: This medication may affect potassium levels. Consult your doctor before using potassium supplements or salt substitutes that contain potassium.
  • Surgical Precautions: Before any surgery, inform your surgeon or dentist about all your medications, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal products.
  • Sensitivity in Older Adults: Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects, especially dizziness and changes in urine output (kidney problems).
  • Pregnancy Warning: Avoid becoming pregnant while taking valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide as it may harm an unborn baby. Discuss with your doctor immediately if you become pregnant.
  • Breastfeeding: While it is unclear if valsartan passes into breast milk, hydrochlorothiazide does but is unlikely to harm a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Contraindications 

Contraindications refer to specific situations or health conditions where a medication should not be used because it could be harmful. If any of the following conditions apply to you, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider, as taking Diovan HCT (valsartan/ hydrochlorothiazide) may not be safe:

  • Anuria (not producing urine)
  • Allergy to sulfa-containing medications
  • Concurrent use of aliskiren (Tekturna) if you have diabetes

Missed Dose

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you missed.

[Note: If you have missed a dose of your medication and are unsure about when to take the next one, immediately consult your doctor or pharmacist.]

Overdose 

If someone has overdosed and exhibits serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, immediate action is required. Symptoms of an overdose can include severe dizziness and fainting. It’s crucial to seek medical help immediately in such cases to ensure prompt and appropriate treatment.

[Note: If you consumed more than recommended dose, get medical help right away, or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.]

Storage

  • Store Diovan HCT at room temperature, ideally between 15°C and 30°C (59°F and 86°F).
  • Store the medication in a dry place. Avoid locations that are prone to moisture, such as bathrooms.
  • To protect the tablets from light and moisture, keep them in their original packaging until you are ready to take them.
  • Ensure the medication is kept out of the reach and sight of children to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Do not store the medication near heat sources or direct sunlight, which can degrade its effectiveness.
  • Always make sure the container is tightly closed to prevent contamination or damage.

[Note: Discuss with your healthcare professional about the proper disposal of any unused medicine and any questions you may have regarding its storage.]

Diovan HCT Interactions

Diovan HCT can interact with several medications, which may require adjustments in your treatment plan. Always inform your doctor and pharmacist about all your medications and supplements, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Below is a categorized list of potential drug interactions with Diovan HCT, but it is not exhaustive.

Not Recommended for Use with Diovan HCT:

  • Aliskiren: Particularly in patients with diabetes.
  • Dofetilide

Use with Caution: Certain medications may be used with Diovan HCT under specific conditions; your doctor may adjust the dosage:

  • NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin)
  • ACE inhibitors (e.g., lisinopril, enalapril)
  • Digitalis and related medications (e.g., digoxin, digitoxin)
  • Diuretics and potassium supplements
  • Lithium
  • Antidiabetic drugs
  • Certain analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ketorolac, indomethacin)
  • Immunosuppressants (e.g., cyclosporine)
  • Certain antihypertensives
  • Antidepressants and antipsychotics

May Increase Risk of Side Effects: Using these drugs with Diovan HCT might increase the risk of side effects but may be necessary for your treatment:

  • Aminolevulinic Acid
  • Bepridil
  • Certain NSAIDs and analgesics (as mentioned above)
  • Ginkgo
  • Gossypol
  • Licorice
  • Topiramate

When combining Diovan HCT with any other drugs, close monitoring by a healthcare provider is essential to manage potential interactions and adjust treatments as needed. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance.

[Note: This isn’t a complete list, and there could be other drugs that interact with Diovan HCT. Make sure to tell your doctor any prescription, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal products you’re taking.]

Diovan HCT Alternatives

  • Hyzaar (losartan / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Zestoretic (lisinopril / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Benicar HCT (olmesartan / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Maxzide (triamterene / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Atacand HCT (candesartan / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Teveten HCT (eprosartan / hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Exforge HCT (amlodipine / valsartan / hydrochlorothiazide)

[Note: Your doctor will choose what’s best for you. Don’t use any of these alternative medications without consulting your healthcare provider. Taking them by yourself may cause serious side effects.] 

Frequently Asked Questions

How soon will Diovan HCT begin to take effect?

You can anticipate improvements in your blood pressure within 1 to 2 weeks after initiating Diovan HCT. However, it may take up to a month to experience the medication’s full benefits. Your healthcare provider may need to adjust your dosage gradually to determine the most effective dose for you.

Can I consume alcohol while taking Diovan HCT?

It is advisable to either avoid or significantly limit alcohol consumption while on Diovan HCT. Drinking alcohol, particularly in large amounts or over a short duration, can cause a sudden decrease in blood pressure, leading to dizziness and an increased risk of falls, especially when getting up from a seated or lying position. If you frequently consume alcohol, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider, who can provide guidance on how to safely manage alcohol intake while using Diovan HCT.

Does Diovan HCT lead to weight loss?

Weight loss is not typically reported as a side effect by individuals who have taken Diovan HCT in clinical trials. Although this medication contains hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that increases urine output to help eliminate excess fluid from the body, it generally does not have a significant impact on weight.

When is the best time of day to take Diovan HCT?

Because Diovan HCT contains a diuretic (water pill), it’s usually better to take it during the day to avoid waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Choose a time to take your medication and stay consistent. Taking Diovan HCT at the same time every day will help keep the levels of medication the same in your body.

Is it safe to take Diovan HCT with ibuprofen (Advil)?

It is generally advised not to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) while taking Diovan HCT. The combination can potentially damage your kidneys. Consider safer alternatives like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for managing pain and fever, and consult your healthcare provider for more guidance.

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