Losartan is a type of medication known as an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). It is used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure and chronic kidney disease, and may also be prescribed following a heart attack.
If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work too hard to pump blood around the body, which can damage blood vessels in the brain, heart and kidneys causing heart failure, stroke or kidney failure. Angiotensin II is a hormone in the body that contributes to the constriction of blood vessels and the retention of salt, both of which contribute to high blood pressure. ARBs like losartan work by blocking the action of angiotensin II, causing blood vessels to relax and lowering blood pressure.
The active ingredient in losartan is losartan potassium.
The inactive ingredients in losartan are lactose monohydrate, starch pregelatinized, colloidal anhydrous silica, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, carnauba wax, hypromellose, titanium dioxide (E171) and macrogol 400.
Please note: different generic brands of losartan may contain different inactive ingredients than those listed above.
Losartan is a medication rarely associated with causing severe allergic reactions in users. While rare, you should keep an eye for the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction including difficulty breathing, hives, severe dizziness and chest tightness. It is imperative you get medical attention as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms after taking losartan.
Always take losartan as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist. Losartan tablets are taken once daily and should be swallowed whole with a glass of water at around the same time each day. If you miss a dose, don’t worry, just take your next dose at the scheduled time. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
The dose of losartan prescribed to you will depend on your medical background and personal circumstances. The recommended starting dose for adults is typically 25 to 50mg per day. If the maximal blood pressure-lowering effect is not reached within 3–6 weeks, the dose may be increased to up to 100mg per day. Dosage is different for treatment in patients with heart failure, so it is vital to follow the instructions of your doctor.
Common side effects (occur in up to 1 in 10) include:
Uncommon side effects (occur in up to 1 in 100) may include:
Rare side effects (occur in up to 1 in 1,000) may include:
Other side effects (frequency not known) may include:
Serious side effects are rare, however, if you experience any of the following then seek medical attention:
Do NOT take losartan if:
Before taking losartan, tell your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
Let your doctor know if you are taking any other types of medication. In particular, the following medications may require additional care:
Most people who take losartan do not experience any side effects. However, in some cases, it can cause dizziness, headaches or pain in your joints and muscles. If you experience bouts of dizziness with this medication, find somewhere to lie down until the feeling has passed. Do not try to drive, ride a bike, or operate heavy machinery. To relieve headaches or joint or muscle pain, make sure to drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers if necessary. If any of these symptoms persist for longer than a week or are particularly severe, speak to a doctor for advice.
Losartan is not recommended for use during pregnancy and must not be taken after the third month of pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you think you are pregnant or are hoping to become pregnant as they will wish to review your treatment.
There are many different treatments for high blood pressure, and a doctor will be able to help you decide which is best for you. While they work in a similar way, different types of ARB (such as valsartan and candesartan) may have slightly different effects. The type of ARB prescribed by a doctor depends on your condition, age, and symptoms. Alternative treatments for high blood pressure include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which work in a similar way to ARBs. Beta-blockers lower blood pressure and also lower your heart rate, while diuretics aid the relaxing of the blood vessels and are sometimes taken in combination with other blood pressure-lowering medications. Finally, calcium-channel blockers such as amlodipine, felodipine and lercanidipine work by preventing calcium from causing blood vessels to constrict.
While losartan itself does not require you to make any major changes to your life, some simple lifestyle changes can help to reduce blood pressure and improve your overall wellbeing. High salt intake is a major cause of high blood pressure, so try to limit the amount of salt in your diet to below the recommended maximum of 6 grams per day. Cut back on fatty foods and try to include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats in your diet. Exercising regularly will keep your heart and blood vessels in good condition, and can also contribute to reducing stress, another cause of high blood pressure. Try and reduce stress in your life by spending time with friends and family, taking daily walks and finding the time to relax where possible. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to the recommended maximum of 14 units per week and, if you haven’t already done so, quit smoking.
There are a range of factors that contribute to developing high blood pressure including obesity, too little exercise, excess salt or alcohol consumption, ethnic origin and age. As there are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure, it is essential to be tested if you are at risk of having the condition.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can eventually lead to stroke, heart attack or kidney problems.
Losartan is recommended for long-term use and in many cases is taken for the rest of the patient’s life.
Losartan can reduce your blood pressure if taken in combination with a general anaesthetic, so you should tell your doctor if you are scheduled to undergo surgery while taking this medication. A doctor may advise you to stop taking losartan 24 hours before surgery.
While losartan is most commonly used to treat high blood pressure, its relaxing effect on the muscle wall of blood vessels means that it can be used to control symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon in cases where other medications have failed. Speak to your doctor if you think you have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Although studies have been conducted to explore the use of high blood pressure treatments like losartan in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend use solely for this reason.
Losartan can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect, but the frequency of this occurring is not known. If you experience erectile dysfunction as a result of losartan, you should speak to your doctor who may be able to review your medication. Losartan is not known to cause sexual side effects in women.
There is no evidence to suggest that losartan affects fertility in men or women. However, if you are female and are trying to get pregnant, tell your doctor before taking this medication as it is not usually recommended for use during pregnancy.
While losartan itself will not affect any form of contraception, some hormonal contraceptives such as the combined oral contraceptive pill and the combined hormonal contraceptive patch are not recommended for use in women with high blood pressure. Consult a doctor for advice on which contraceptive is best for you.
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