Benicar® is the brand name for olmesartan medoxomil, a drug used to reduce high blood pressure by widening the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow throughout the body. This drug is classified as an angiotensin II receptor antagonist because it prevents a type of peptide, called angiotensin, from shrinking the blood vessels. Benicar® is usually only prescribed to people diagnosed with high blood pressure, unlike other blood pressure medications that can treat several heart or blood conditions.
Benicar® comes in two strengths: its regular formula, simply called Benicar®, and its extra strength version, called Benicar® HCT. Its extra strength version contains both Benicar® and a diuretic, which causes the body to excrete more urine. Studies show that diuretics can help lower blood pressure.
Its extra strength version is only prescribed to people who cannot control their blood pressure through a healthy diet, exercise and a drug regimen. For example, people who eat a low-fat diet, exercise several times a week and take Benicar® regularly but do not see any drastic results in their blood pressure may need to take the extra strength version instead.
While taking Benicar®, it is very important to follow all of the instructions given by the doctor. For example, he or she may recommend avoiding alcohol while taking this medication, as it may lower a person's blood pressure to dangerously low levels. It also is important to take the medication every day as prescribed, regardless of how a person feels physically.
Doctors usually begin patients on a regimen of 20 milligrams once per day to allow their bodies to get used to the drug. After a patient's body becomes accustomed to the new drug, the doctor may increase the dose to 40 milligrams once a day. The dose is also increased if a person's blood pressure is still high after the therapy begins.
While taking this medication, there are serious adverse effects to consider, especially for those who plan to become pregnant. There is significant evidence that this drug can fatally damage an unborn fetus, and as such is not generally recommended for use during pregnancy. Patients with renal diseases are closely monitored while taking this medication, as it can cause renal failure in rare cases. Benicar® HCT also contains a diuretic that can cause dehydration, which could cause changes in electrolytes and worsen dehydration, if a person is already dehydrated. As such, it is important to stay hydrated while taking this drug to avoid any serious complications.