Do you suffer from high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a serious health concern that affects millions of Canadians each year.

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There are various medications patients can take to lower their blood pressure, like benazepril. However, every drug comes with its own unique risks.

You should always speak to your doctor about trying new medications. For now, keep reading to find out what you must know about this drug before you take it.

What Does Benazepril Do?

Benazepril is a medication in the form of an oral tablet. It’s available in generic form as well as in its brand name, Lotensin.

Essentially, this drug relaxes your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are tense, the heart has to work overtime to ensure blood is pumped throughout the vascular system. By relaxing the blood vessels, your heart isn’t stressed from working so hard.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can result in a stroke or even heart failure.

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Side Effects

The most common side effects patients experience when taking this medication are mild headaches, cough, sleepiness, and reduced taste and smell.

When taken with certain other drugs, benazepril can enhance that drug’s side effects. For example, when taken with diabetic medications like pramlintide or metformin, it can increase the side effects of those meds.

When taken with mood stabilizing drugs, like Lithium, it can increase the chance of having side effects from those drugs.

If you take benazepril with other blood pressure medication, you may experience enhanced side effects.

Dangerous side effects can occur in specific groups of people. Keep reading to find out more.

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Potassium Levels

Potassium is an important mineral that plays a part in almost every bodily system. Too much potassium can, therefore, severely impact the body.

Blood pressure medications often increase your body’s level of potassium. So, if you already had a healthy amount, taking benazepril can cause your potassium level to skyrocket out of the safe-zone.

Too much potassium can cause a heart attack or heart rhythm issues. It’s not recommended to take potassium supplements while on blood pressure medications.

Allergic Reactions

In some cases, this medication can cause an allergic reaction in the skin.

The signs of a reaction include itching, hives, skin blisters, and a rash. If you experience an allergic reaction while taking this drug you should seek medical guidance immediately.

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A severe allergic reaction called angioedema rarely occurs, but when it does it causes swelling of the face, tongue, larynx, arms, and legs. You should go to the hospital the moment you notice this reaction.

Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant should not take benazepril because it can have severe adverse effects on the fetus.

Similarly, women should not take this drug while they are breastfeeding because it can enter the breast milk and then enter the infant’s body causing serious health concerns.

If you are planning on getting pregnant while also needing treatment for high blood pressure, you should speak to your doctor about alternatives.

For women who aren’t planning on getting pregnant, it’s incredibly important to be using reliable forms of contraceptives during sexual intercourse. However, if you do unintentionally get pregnant while taking this medication, stop taking it immediately and see your doctor.

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Seniors

As we age into later-adulthood, our kidney and liver functions start to slow down. Processing nutrients and medications through the kidney take longer, meaning whatever is in your body will remain there longer.

Seniors with high blood pressure may be prescribed a lower dose of benazepril because of this delay in processing by the liver. The longer the drug is in the body, the higher chance you have of experiencing side effects.

People who have had kidney disease or a kidney transplant may also be prescribed a lower dose or simply an alternative.

Hidden Costs

Aside from the cost of filling the prescription, taking blood pressure medication can sometimes come with hidden costs.

Since this drug can affect your kidney and liver, impact a potential fetus, and increase potassium levels, your doctor may insist you get regular blood tests taken to monitor for all those factors.

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Check your province or territories’ public health care coverage to see if blood tests are included. Sometimes certain blood tests are considered specialty tests and are not covered by general health care coverage.

You will also likely need to purchase a blood pressure monitoring device so that you can check your blood pressure daily. They can cost anywhere from $45-150 dollars depending on the brand and capabilities.

Effectiveness

After taking your daily dose, patients usually see a decrease in their blood pressure half an hour to one hour after taking their oral dose. The peak effects usually take place around 2-4 hours after taking a daily dose.

It’s important to take your dose around the same time each day because as you approach 24 hours of your last dose the effects begin to wear off. After a few weeks of taking benazepril regularly, patients should notice more consistent and balanced blood pressure levels.

What Happens if I Miss My Dose?

This drug requires consistent intake to be optimally effective. If you miss a dose, the effectiveness is compromised.

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If you forgot to take your dose, you can take it as soon as you remember unless it’s within a few hours of your next scheduled dose. In that case, just wait until your next one.

You should never take twice the dosage to make up for missing your previous dose. That can cause serious side effects.

Interested in Learning More?

Taking care of your blood pressure is important because high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart failure.

Monitoring your blood pressure and speaking to your doctor about possible medications are two ways you can stay on top of your vascular health. It’s important to learn about the medications you are taking: what are the side effects and risks?

For more information on different health concerns and medications that can address them, check out our blog.

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