Generic name: Losartan
Brand name: Cozaar, Hyzaar (containing Hydrochlorothiazide and Losartan)
Losartan is classified as an Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonist medication. Also known as ARBs (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers), these medications are mostly used to treat high blood pressure, but have other uses as well, such as the treatment of congestive heart failure–a condition characterized by a lack of efficient blood flow from the heart to other parts of the body. Other ARBs include Micardis (Telmisartan), Avapro (Irbesartan), or Diovan (Valsartan).
The specific function of Angiotensin Receptor Blockers is to negate the actions of certain substances in the body which cause the blood vessels to tighten. This enables the heart to pump more efficiently and the blood to flow more smoothly throughout the body.
Clinical trials of over 60,000 patients have shown that there is a very small percentage increase in the number of people who have cancer and are taking ARBs as compared to those who have cancer and are not taking ARBs. However, the FDA has yet to conclude officially that ARBs actually cause an increased risk of cancer.
Initial Dose: usually starts at 25mg, taken orally in tablet form once or twice a day.
Maintenance Dose: usually 50 to 100 mg taken orally in tablet form once or twice a day.
It is normal for doctors to prescribe this medication at a low dose and gradually increase the dosage if necessary. Taking Losartan with food is not required. A drop in blood pressure should be imminent after the first dosage; however, it isn’t uncommon for patients to not feel the full benefits of the drug until about 3 to 6 weeks into the treatment.
It is important to remember that Losartan does not cure high blood pressure, it merely controls it. A patient should never stop taking this medication without talking to the doctor first.
Precautions and Adverse Effects
As with all medications, there are necessary precautions to take and some adverse side effects.
Precautions: The patient’s doctor should be consulted about allergic reactions that the patient may experience due to the ingredients in the drug. The doctor should also be informed of any other medications that the patient is currently taking. Some medications in particular could have adverse effects when combined with Losartan. These include but are not limited to NSAIDs, diuretics, Rifampin, Lithium, or Flucanazole. Also, the patient should tell the doctor about any history of heart failure, or diseases of the liver or kidney.
Anybody taking an ARB should be informed before-hand that they cause dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting upon standing up from a sitting or lying down position.
Forgetting a dose: If a daily dose is missed, it is recommended that the patient either take it as soon as possible, or if the next dose is imminent to skip the missed dose altogether. Patients should never double their dose in order to compensate for a missed one.
The patient’s doctor should be notified if any of these conditions are severe or long-lasting.
- Leg, knee or back pain
- Lessened sensitivity to touch
- Muscle cramping
- Stuffy nose
Losartan can cause serious adverse effects in certain patients. If any of the following symptoms occur, a doctor should be notified immediately:
- Swelling of the face, mouth, or appendages
- Difficulty swallowing/breathing and hoarseness
- Chest pain
In case of emergency/overdose:
In case of overdose, the poison control center should be called right away (1-800-222-1222). If the person has collapsed or stopped breathing, emergency medical services (911) should be contacted instead.
Symptoms of an overdose of Losartan include:
- Unusually high heart-rate/pounding heartbeat