Diovan®, also known as valsartan, is a blood pressure medication proven to reduce hypertension, or high blood pressure. It works by inhibiting chemicals that cause blood vessels and muscles around the heart to contract. Users should carefully monitor their intake of the drug to avoid overdose. Diovan® can have several serious side effects including kidney failure, low blood pressure, and complications with pregnancy.
The drug is classified as an angiotensin II receptor antagonist. Angiotensin II is a chemical that causes muscles around the blood vessels to contract, consequently increasing blood pressure. Medications like Diovan® inhibit angiotensin II from bonding with blood vessel receptors. As a result, blood pressure is lowered because the heart is able to pump blood through the blood vessels with less strain.
A person living with prolonged high blood pressure can damage the arteries and blood vessels in vital organs like the heart, brain, and kidneys. This can result in a heart attack or stroke. In addition to blocking angiotensin II, Diovan® relaxes muscles surrounding critical blood vessels therefore aiding in the widening of the vessels.
The drug comes in solid pill or capsule form in 40 milligram (mg), 80 mg, 160 mg, or 320 mg doses. Each patient responds differently to the various doses. Blood pressure must be routinely evaluated to test the efficacy of the currently prescribed dosage.
Diovan® should be used only as directed. Taking this drug in amounts that exceed the recommended dose per day may result in an overdose. Signs of overdose include a rapid or dawdling heart rate, light-headedness, and loss of consciousness. Immediate medical attention should be sought if an overdose is believed to have occurred.
In extremely rare cases, this drug can cause kidney failure by breaking down skeletal muscle tissues. Another possible side effect of this drug is hypotension, low blood pressure. Alcohol abuse exacerbates this side effect. Women who are pregnant should avoid using Diovan®. This medication can inhibit in-utero growth, lead to deformities, and, in some cases, cause the death of a fetus. Lesser side effects include dizziness, diarrhea, headaches and insomnia; these usually subside after extended use.
People using this medication should see a decrease in blood pressure after two to four weeks of consistent use. If blood pressure has not improved after a month of use as directed, patients should consult with their doctor about increasing their daily dose. Potassium and salt substitutes may negate the beneficial effects of Diovan®. The drug should continue to be used after hypertension subsides unless told otherwise by a physician.