The following are frequently asked questions about the use of the hypertension prescription medicine, Benicar:
A: You may not. Many patients start with lifestyle changes to control their high blood pressure. Whole foods, especially asparagus and blueberries, lowering ones consumption of processed foods containing hydrogenated oils (often found in processed peanut butter to make it smooth), increasing one’s intake of Omega 3s, exercise – all of these can have a positive effect on lowering your blood pressure. You must advocate for your own body. If you have tried the non-medication route and it is not working, it may be time to add medication but don’t stop trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to pop a pill, but all medications have side effects.
A: High blood pressure may affect up to one-third of Americans. Often it is undiagnosed until it has done serious damage. High blood pressure or hypertension is the condition where blood is forced against your artery walls with increased pressure. High pressure can result from two forces – the force of the blood against the artery wall and at the same time the constriction of the artery. If this continues long-term, vessels can be compromised potentially leading to heart attack or stroke. The good news is that high blood pressure is easily detected.
A: Your doctor can help diagnose your high blood pressure, even if you have no symptoms. It’s taken with the arm cuff pressure device. Do you suffer from shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and headaches? Blood pressure should be part of any patient checkup. If your doctor doesn’t offer one, insist it be taken. Do not think high blood pressure won’t happen to you. Hypertension develops over many years and it can mask an underlying condition such as sleep apnea, kidney and thyroid problems. Some drugs can cause hypertension as can alcohol use and abuse. High blood pressure is more common in men over the age of 45, in women over the age of 65.
A: The body is an amazing system of checks and balances. In the body, a protein angiotensin 2 naturally constricts blood vessels and that makes arteries narrower causing the blood flow to quicken. In the process your blood pressure is increased. Benicar will block the angiotensin 2 from attaching to receptor where it potentially does the most damage. An angiotensin 2 receptor blocker such as Benicar is among a class of medications known as ARBs.
A: Please be mindful that many side effects may take a year or two to develop. Have you lost weight? Do you suffer from abdominal cramps? Vomiting? Diarrhea? Rashes? The first line of defense to these symptoms is often to put a patient on a gluten-free diet when they avoid the gluten portion of wheat and rye. But these symptoms will not improve if Benicar and its active ingredient are causing the gastrointestinal disturbance. An early diagnosis is key because the damage can be permanent and serious.
A: Absolutely not. There is what’s called the Food and Drug Administration’s most severe warning – a black-box warning against use by pregnant women. The drug may lead to fetal abnormalities. There are no adequate studies on pregnant women during the first trimester. By the second and third trimester, the risks to a fetus likely outweigh the benefits. There are no adequate studies indicating it is safe to breastfeed while taking Benicar. Benicar is also contraindicated for anyone suffering from kidney disease or diabetes.
A: Benicar HCT contains the key ingredient of Olmesartan medoxomil with an additional water pill, thiazide diuretic. It essentially causes the body to increase its output of liquids which helps reduce the pressure on blood vessels. The addition of a diuretic can affect the sodium-potassium balance in the body. Symptoms to watch out for are thirst, sleepiness, dry mouth, confusion, muscle pains and cramps, a fast heartbeat, among other symptoms.
A: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires clinical trials from the drug manufacturer as part of its premarket approval process. Theoretically, the drug maker should be forwarding all safety and efficacy studies to the FDA. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. Often in real life, among a diverse population is when we see the side effects of any potentially dangerous drug. Consider it like a very large clinical trial. Unfortunately, you, the patient, are the unwilling trial participant. Common wisdom from doctors is to avoid drugs that are new on the market and instead take the time-proven older version of any medication.
A: Your doctor may not tell you this but there are some serious warnings that appear on the label of Benicar. One of the warnings involves stopping the drug if you are pregnant or about to become pregnant. Another safety issue was issued in June 2010 after the use of Benicar was linked to death from heart attack and stroke among diabetics with type-2 diabetes taking the drug. High blood pressure itself can also be fatal and the FDA has not concluded that Benicar is linked to cardiovascular problems or death and still insists its benefits outweigh the potential risks.