Valsartan (Diovan) is a member of a class of drugs known as angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARBs). These medications are often used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart failure.
In people with heart failure, Valsartan also reduces the likelihood of having emergency heart issues and helps people live for longer post heart attack. This medication works by relaxing the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily through the veins, which lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. However, along with the benefits of this medication, there are common and serious symptoms.
What Are Common Side Effects of Valsartan?
Before prescribing valsartan, a doctor has judged that the benefit to the patient outweighs the risk of side effects. Common side effects that may occur usually require no medical attention and go away without medical treatment include:
- Cold symptoms (sore throat, cough, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose)
- Upper respiratory infection
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty with moving
- Flu symptoms
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Stomach pain
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- Itching or skin rash
It is common for a person to experience lightheadedness or dizziness when they first begin taking the medication. However, as their body adjusts to valsartan these symptoms usually go away. If they persist or get worse, however, it is essential to speak with a doctor or pharmacist immediately. A medical professional might have tips about how to prevent or reduce any bothersome side effects from taking this medication.
What Are Serious Side Effects of Valsartan?
Many people who are prescribed valsartan do not experience serious side effects; however, it is important to monitor one’s health for signs of severe symptoms. Any persons experiencing severe symptoms of blood pressure medications should notify his or her doctor immediately as it is always better to address serious health concerns sooner rather than later. The serious side effects of Valsartan include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Cold sweats
- Sudden trouble with breathing or swallowing
- Weight loss
- Swelling of the skin, generally around the eyes and lips
Although Valsartan helps many patients with kidney problems, in rare cases it can worsen the condition of the kidneys. Some common signs of kidney problems include blood in urine, decreased frequency or amount of urination, and pain with urination.
What Are Angiotensin Receptor Blockers?
The medications in the angiotensin II receptor blocker drug class works just as the name suggests, to block the effects of angiotensin. ARBs work to prevent angiotensin II from joining the angiotensin receptor that is on the body’s tissue and blood vessels.
When the ARBs block the action of the angiotensin II, the blood vessels are able to relax or widen. To loosen the blood vessels, these ARBs work by blocking the action of angiotensin II, which then allows your blood vessels to relax or expand. Angiotensin is the chemical within a person’s body that regulates blood pressure and causes blood vessels to narrow which then forces the heart to work harder.
ARBs are generally used in combination with other medications to lower high blood pressure. All types of angiotensin receptor blocker medications usually used for the following:
- Reducing risks of stroke
- Treating congestive heart failure
- Preventing diabetes
- Kidney failure – related to blood pressure
- Prevent atrial fibrillation
Types of Angiotensin Receptor Blockers
There are several types of blood pressure medications out on the market purposed for relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. Individuals require specific medications depending on their health conditions and symptoms. Doctors will prescribe the correct type of ABR to a patient. Some types of angiotensin receptor blockers such as Valsartan include:
- Candesartan (Atacand)
- Irbesartan (Avapro)
- Azilsartan (Edarbi)
- Candesartan (Atacand)
- Olmesartan (Benicar)
- Losartan (Cozaar)
- Telmisartan (Micardis)
- Eprosartan (Teveten)
While all of these blood pressure drugs have similar effects, they each have different means of exiting the body and different ways of distributing throughout the body. All of these ABRs are prescribed for once a day usage to treat hypertension, but patients may take the medication twice a day if needed. Some drugs are more effective and stronger than others. Studies on these drugs found that Irbesartan and Candesartan potentially provide more effective treatment than Losartan.
Cancer Risks with the Valsartan and Blood Pressure Drugs
Valsartan is intended to act against high blood pressure. However, this class of drug has been known to increase a patient’s risk of cancer. As a result, the FDA has issued a recall of many drugs in this class. Attorneys are investigating possible cases against the manufacturers of these drugs and are gathering information for potential valsartan lawsuits against the drugmakers.
A recent recall of the popular blood pressure medication, Valsartan, involves one of the major manufacturers, Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc. The pharmaceutical company is conducting a voluntary recall of 80 lots of the hypertension and heart failure medication. The major products being recalled are:
- Amlodipine Valsartan Tablets USP
- Valsartan HCTZ Tablets USP
- Valsartan Tablets USP
Blood pressure medication recalls are due to the company detecting trace amounts of an unexpected impurity in the finished drug product, N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). Drugs in the angiotensin II receptor blocker class from several manufacturers have been found to contain the substance NDEA.
NDEA is a naturally occurring substance found in drinking water, certain foods, air pollution, and industrial processes. It is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which means that NDEA can cause cancer.
Patients who are currently taking this medication should contact their pharmacist or physician before stopping treatment and ask about alternatives.
Contact an Experienced Drug Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has taken a Valsartan drug that contains NDMA, you should immediately contact a lawyer to discuss your case and the chances that you may be able to receive compensation for being exposed to a carcinogen. The Eichholz Law Firm has many years of experience in helping patients who have been harmed by medications and medical devices and can help you too. They have successfully prosecuted many claims involving defective medications and can bring their experience to bear for you.
- RX List. “Side Effects“, RX List, https://www.rxlist.com/diovan-side-effects-drug-center.htm. Accessed February 12th, 2019.
- WebMD. “Valsartan Oral“, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-849/valsartan-oral/details. Accessed February 12th,2019.
- FDA. “Safety Recalls“, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm629213.htm . Accessed February 12th, 2019.
- Mayo Clinic. “Valsartan (Oral Route)“, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/valsartan-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20067355. Accessed February 12th, 2019.
- Mayo Clinic. “Angiotensin II receptor blockers“, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/angiotensin-ii-receptor-blockers/art-20045009. Accessed February 14th, 2019.
- RX List. “ANGIOTENSIN RECEPTOR BLOCKERS (ARBS)“, RX List, https://www.rxlist.com/angiotensin_receptor_blockers_arbs/drugs-condition.htm. Accessed February 14th, 2019.