High blood pressure is a dangerous condition.
It adds to the workload of the heart and arteries. And if it goes unchecked for long enough, it may cause them to stop functioning properly.
When this happens, damage to the blood vessels of the brain, heart, and kidneys can result in a stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure.
If you’ve been dealing with high blood pressure, your doctor may have recently prescribed Losartan for you. And you’re probably wondering, what is losartan?
You’re probably already aware that it’s a blood pressure medication.
Losartan May Reduce the Risk of Heart Attacks
But it’s also used for other conditions as well because lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems.
So Losartan also helps protect the kidneys from further damage due to diabetes, as well as lowering the risk of stroke in patients with high blood pressure and an enlarged heart.
But What Is Losartan?
Losartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). Introduced in 1995, it was the first angiotensin receptor blocker on the market.
Angiotensin is a peptide hormone that causes constriction of the vascular system, which increases blood pressure. It’s part of the renin-angiotensin system which serves to regulate blood pressure.
Angiotensin also stimulates the release of aldosterone from the adrenal cortex. This promotes sodium retention by the kidneys.
ARBs like losartan are medications that block the action of angiotensin II by preventing it from binding to angiotensin II receptors on the muscles surrounding blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels become less constricted and can dilate and enlarge.
In essence, losartan relaxes the blood vessels so that blood can flow more freely and blood pressure is lowered. And lower blood pressure means more blood and oxygen are supplied to the heart.
How to Use It
Losartan is an oral medication. It’s taken by mouth as directed by your doctor. This will usually be once daily – with or without food.
If you’re prescribed the liquid form of this medication, be sure to shake the bottle well before each dose. To measure the dosage, use a special measuring device/spoon. Using a household spoon is not advised as you may not get the correct dose.
Be sure to take this medication at the same time each day.
And to get the most benefit from losartan, it’s important to continue taking it regularly. Even if you’re feeling well. High blood pressure is tricky because it does not make most people feel sick.
If your blood pressure readings increase after using it for several weeks, tell your doctor.
As with all medications, there is the risk of side effects.
But just remember that if your doctor has prescribed losartan, then he or she believes that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects.
Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Some of the more common side effects may include:
- dry cough
- feeling tired
- muscle cramps
- leg or back pain
- a headache, dizziness
- stomach pain, diarrhea
- problems with sleeping or insomnia
- cold or flu symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever)
Other more severe side effects may include:
- pale skin
- mood changes
- loss of appetite
- increased thirst
- rapid heart rate
- wheezing, chest pain
- trouble concentrating
- nausea and vomiting
- swelling or weight gain
- feeling that you might pass out
- pain or burning upon urination
- urinating less than usual or not at all
- feeling light-headed or short of breath
- high potassium levels resulting in weak pulse, slow heart rate or tingly feeling
If you experience any of these severe side effects, you should call your doctor right away.
It should also be noted that in rare cases, losartan can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. This is dangerous because it can lead to kidney failure.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any unexplained muscle pain or weakness, especially if accompanied by a fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine.
It’s crucial that your doctor is aware of any allergies you have.
He or she should also be clear about all the medications you take. This includes other prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter, vitamins, illegal or recreational drugs, and dietary or herbal supplements.
These could impact the effectiveness of losartan.
Losartan should be avoided altogether if you’re taking medications containing aliskiren (Amturnide, Tekturna, Tekamio, Valturna) for diabetes or kidney disease.
Also, let your doctor know if you take any of the following medication:
- Ibuprofen (Advil)
- Lithium (Eskalith)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
- Potassium supplements
- Phenobarbital (Solfoton)
- Naproxen (Aflaxen, Aleve)
- Aspirin (Anacin, Bayer, or Bufferin)
- Potassium-sparing diuretics (Amiloride)
There might be times when aspirin or another anti-inflammatory like naproxen can’t be avoided. Just be sure to run it past your doctor first.
Other Medical Problems
Along with allergies or interactions to other drugs, the presence of other medical problems may also affect the use of losartan.
It’s especially critical to inform your doctor of any of the following conditions:
- Congestive heart failure
- An allergic reaction (angioedema) to other blood pressure medicines (e.g., benazepril, enalapril, lisinopril, Lotrel, Vasotec, Zestoretic, Zestril
- Diabetes or kidney disease that’s being treated with aliskiren (Tekturna)
- Electrolyte imbalances such as high or low potassium or sodium in the body
- Liver disease (including cirrhosis) that could cause a slower removal of losartan from the body
Using losartan with any of these conditions could be risky.
How Is Losartan Dosed?
Most people start with 50 mg, although patients treated with diuretics may start with 25 mg, once or twice daily.
It typically takes less than a week for to start noticing effects – though maximal effect usually occurs after three to six weeks.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible.
But if you realize you missed a dose when it’s time to take the next one, don’t try to “double up.” You’re better off just skipping it.
Is Losartan the Right Medication for You?
We hope we were able to clear up the question of “what is losartan” so you have a clearer understanding of what to expect if your doctor has prescribed this for you.
And be sure to check our pharmaceutical database to compare prices for the losartan or other medications you might need. And keep the blood flowing!