Benicar to Lower Blood Pressure
On May 29, 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure). Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) is an angiotensin II receptor blocker that has significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic levels (the two values that make up a blood pressure reading) in clinical studies.
Angiotensin II is a chemical in the body that causes blood vessels to constrict, leading to an increase in blood pressure. Benicar lowers blood pressure by blocking the action of this chemical. Other angiotensin II receptor blockers currently available include: losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), candesartan (Atacand), eprosartan (Teveten), and telmisartan (Micardis).
Benicar can be taken alone or in combination with other anti-hypertensive medications. Most people with hypertension will need to take a combination of drugs to achieve target blood pressure reductions. It is likely that the combination of Benicar with low dose thiazides (hydrochlorothiazide and others) will prove particularly efficacious with minimum side effects.
Benicar was extensively studied. The FDA considered seven placebo-controlled studies of the drug, which included more than 3,275 people with essential hypertension. Essential hypertension has no specific known cause, as opposed to secondary hypertension, which is due to an identified medical condition. When this condition is treated, blood pressure is usually lowered. The results of each of these studies showed that Benicar caused significant decreases in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels.
Benicar is taken once a day as an oral tablet. Doses of 20 milligrams (mg) and 40 mg per day produce the best results. Taking more than 40 mg per day appears to have no additional benefits.
The only side effect reported by study volunteers was dizziness, which occurred in 3% of those taking Benicar.
More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, making it the most common health problem in this country. It is an especially dangerous condition because it rarely produces symptoms and, if not treated, can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. In most cases, blood pressure can be controlled with a healthful diet, regular exercise, and medications. With the approval of Benicar, people with high blood pressure have another option for treatment.
Food and Drug Administration
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Heart Healthy Kit: Public Health Agency of Canada
Last reviewed July 2008 by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
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