Telmisartan is a prescription medication used alone or in a combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure, a condition also known as hypertension. Belonging to a group of medications called angiotensin II receptor antagonists, telmisartan treats high blood pressure by blocking chemicals that cause blood vessels to narrow or tighten. Blood pressure lowers because the blood vessels relax and allow blood to flow smoother through the body, increasing the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the heart. In addition to treating high blood pressure, this medication also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in people aged 55 years or older who have blood vessel or heart problems.
Like all medications, telmisartan can cause an array of side effects. Less serious side effects include back pain, diarrhea and headache, as well as runny nose, sinus pain and sore throat. These are side effects that do not require medical attention unless they become persistent or severe. More serious side effects that do need immediate medical attention include allergic reaction, muscle pain and weakness, particularly when symptoms like fever or nausea accompanies the muscle pain or weakness. Rarely, telmisartan can cause skeletal muscle tissue to break down, which in turn, can result in kidney failure.
It is important for a patient to take telmisartan as prescribed by his doctor. The medication comes in tablet form and, in general, the patient will need to take it once a day. Ideally, he takes it around the same time as he always does every day because not only can it help him remember to take the medication, it can also help keep a constant amount of the medication in his blood. High blood pressure that does not receive proper treatment can lead to serious medical conditions like heart failure, kidney disease or stroke. In addition, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the brain and affect the functions of the arteries and heart.
Telmisartan does not cure, but instead helps to control, high blood pressure. It can take weeks for the medication to get blood pressure under control. Since high blood pressure does not always cause symptoms, a patient should not lessen his dosage, or stop taking telmisartan altogether. Women who become pregnant while taking telmisartan do need to stop using it immediately because it can harm an unborn baby. For some people, maintaining this control means taking blood pressure medication for the remainder of their lives.