What is Benicar (Olmesartan)?
Benicar is a medication prescribed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) in adult patients and children 6 years and older.
Benicar belongs to the drug class, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). This medication works by keeping the blood vessels from narrowing, which lowers blood pressure. This allows more blood and oxygen to get to your heart and other organs and helps your heart to not work as hard.
Benicar is not recommended:
- If you are allergic or have had an allergic reaction to Benicar or ingredients in Benicar
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- For children under 6 years of age, especially below 1 year old
What are the Indications for Benicar?
Benicar is approved to treat high blood pressure and help prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems.
How is Benicar used?
Benicar should be stored in the original package between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C) away from heat and moisture.
Keep out of reach of children.
Take Benicar by mouth, as directed by your doctor, at any time of the day, but it should be taken at the same time every day. It can be taken with or without food.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, only take one dose. Do not catch up by taking two doses at once.
Do not change your dosage, take more than what is prescribed, or stop using Benicar without consulting with your doctor. If you took more than prescribed, contact your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care.
Benicar is available in tablet form in the following strengths: 5 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg.
The recommended starting dose is 20 mg once daily for adults and 10 – 20 mg for children, depending on their weight.
It’s important to understand that although Benicar is FDA-approved, it comes with side effects that may or may not affect you.
Before starting Benicar, you should discuss possible side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.
Common Side Effects
Not all side effects require medical attention. As your body adjusts to Benicar, side effects may go away. Tell your doctor if you experience the following symptoms, and they become severe or do not go away on their own.
- Back pain
- Joint/muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Itching/skin rash
- Flu-like symptoms
- Blood in the urine
- High blood sugar
Serious Side Effects
Severe adverse reactions while taking Benicar may occur. Seek emergency medical care or call 911 if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Allergic reaction: rash, hives itching/swelling, especially the face, tongue and throat, severe dizziness and trouble breathing.
- Intestinal problems (sprue-like enteropathy): severe diarrhea and weight loss.
- High potassium level: nausea, weakness, tingly feeling, chest pain, slow/irregular heartbeat and loss of movement.
- Kidney problems: little or no urine, renal failure.
- Other: feels like you are going to pass out, chest pain, cough, vertigo, abdominal pain, muscle tissue breakdown.
The information above does not list all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you experience any side effects not listed. You or your doctor may report side effects to the FDA by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.
Warnings & Precautions
Before using Benicar, tell your doctor or pharmacist:
- If you are allergic to Benicar or any ingredients in Benicar
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed
- If you have kidney or liver problems
- If you have a lot of diarrhea or are vomiting
- If you suffer from diabetes
- If you have high levels of potassium in your blood
- If you are on a low salt diet
If you have diabetes, do not take Benicar with any medication that contains aliskiren (a blood pressure medicine. The brand names include Amturnide, Tekturna and Tekamlo.
Benicar lowers your blood pressure and can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy, especially if you take diuretics (water pills), other medication to lower your blood pressure or alcohol.
High potassium levels
Benicar can increase the amount of potassium in your body and this can lead to heart and kidney problems. Your doctor should check your potassium levels on a regular basis.
Diarrhea and weight loss
Benicor can cause severe diarrhea and unexplained weight loss. Make sure you stay hydrated and contact your doctor if you have more than 3 – 4 loose stools in a day.
Breastfeeding or Planning to Breastfeed
Studies have not been conducted to determine if Benicar will pass through to human milk. Benicar is not recommended when breastfeeding.
Interactions & Contraindications
Before using Benicar, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you take any medications, herbal supplements, or vitamins, especially lithium and NSAIDs.
Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant
Benicar is not safe to use while pregnant and can impact the unborn baby and cause harm. It will reduce the unborn baby’s renal function and increase the chance of birth defects and death. If you are a female patient and pregnant or planning to become pregnant, please speak to your doctor first before using Benicar. If you fall pregnant while using Benicar, stop using this medication immediately.