It’s not uncommon for those who are aging to contend with high blood pressure. Some may find their blood pressure creeping up slowly, while others more quickly. Either way, it’s always a good idea to have your blood pressure checked every so often.
Sometimes medications are used to maintain a more normal blood pressure, which can help your cardiovascular health and longevity of life.
Losartan, usually known by the brand name Cozaar, is an antihypertensive drug that keeps the blood vessels from constricting, allowing blood to flow more freely and reduce blood pressure. It’s usually prescribed to treat patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), type II diabetes-related kidney issues along with hypertension, and other blood pressure-related issues.
When taken orally, the usual starting daily dose is 50 mg (milligrams) a day, sometimes broken into two 25 mg doses. In some cases, the doctor may start at 25 mg a day. The highest daily dose, however, is 100 mg. Any dose that is higher risks overdose, so make sure to take Losartan exactly as your doctor has prescribed it to you. As your body adjusts to it, your doctor will decide whether to decrease or increase your dosage.
It’s strongly advised that women who are pregnant not take this drug. If you are on Losartan and discover that you’re pregnant, notify your physician immediately to have your medications changed. Losartan can cause serious injury or death to your unborn baby during the second or third trimester.
Before Taking Losartan, be Sure to Tell Your Doctor if You Have:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Electrolyte imbalance
In extremely rare cases, some patients have developed an issue called rhabdomyolysis. People with this condition experience a breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. This can lead to major kidney issues, leading the kidneys to become damaged or fail entirely. Anyone experiencing a high sensitivity to weakness or pain, feeling extra tired, or having darker-colored urine while using Losartan should talk to their doctor immediately.
Now that we have a better understanding of what Losartan is and what it’s used for, let’s explore this drug’s side effects (common and dangerous ones). We’ll also discuss the drug’s potential for abuse and how to recognize if someone is abusing it.
Losartan Side Effects
As with any medication, Losartan use comes with the chance of developing side effects.
Some of the common side effects associated with Losartan are:
- Cold or flu symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever)
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach pain or diarrhea
- Headache or dizziness
- Drowsiness or insomnia
Call your doctor immediately if you develop any of these side effects:
- Feeling like you may pass out
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Pale skin or feeling lightheaded
- Short of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Confusion, mood changes
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling or weight gain
Be sure to speak with your doctor and physician to get a complete list of possible side effects associated with Losartan. Also, be sure to let your doctor know about any other medications you may be taking to avoid unnecessary complications.
You’ll want to especially avoid interactions with:
- Diuretics (“water pills”)
- Other blood pressure medications
- Aspirin or other NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.)
Possible Issues Caused by Interactions With Other Drugs Include:
Losartan Addiction Potential
Various organizations and medical professionals conduct regular research on a wide variety of medications to determine each drug’s chance for users to develop addictions.
For Losartan, the reports are very few, indicating that its addiction potential is low. Though it requires a prescription by a medical professional, it is not considered a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Additionally, since it doesn’t cause any psychoactive or euphoric effects, it isn’t sold on the streets.
With that being said, according to some older data collected in the 1970s, it has been suggested that senior adults may commonly misuse Losartan. And, newer studies have shown there is a slight potential for abuse in elderly communities. Older adults may take the required daily dose at once instead of twice a day as prescribed, or they may forget they’ve taken a dose and accidentally double up on it.
While there isn’t much potential for addiction to Losartan, it is possible for long-term users to become physically dependent on the drug. This doesn’t indicate a form of substance abuse or addiction, but it can lead to withdrawal symptoms if use is ever stopped. Additionally, there is a potential to overdose on Losartan, which can bring about significant cardiac issues that require medical treatment.
Losartan and the FDA
Even though the potential for addiction or abuse is extremely low, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA does have some data regarding addicted individuals who develop high blood pressure after being prescribed Losartan. Some of the information provided includes:
- Females who abuse narcotics are more likely to be prescribed Losartan than males
- Patients older than age 50 with a narcotic abuse disorder are commonly prescribed Losartan
- Not many patients who abuse narcotics are prescribed Losartan
It’s important to note that although Losartan is sometimes prescribed to people with substance abuse problems, it does not indicate a high risk of the drug being abused. It’s only used to treat high blood pressure in individuals recovering from drug abuse.
Losartan Withdrawal Symptoms
Given that there is a potential for dependence and possible overdose, there are also withdrawal symptoms to look out for. Discontinuation of the drug may result in anxiety issues, irritability, and mild flu-like symptoms.
Although the withdrawal symptoms are mild, they can still be unpleasant. It is advised that you talk to your doctor before going off this drug. The doctor may be able to taper you off the drug gradually to avoid any issues.
Losartan is an antihypertensive drug with minimal potential for abuse. However, there have been reports of elderly patients with hypertension misusing the drug, which can sometimes lead to overdose. Long-term users can experience mild dependence, which may lead to equally mild withdrawal symptoms.
As with any medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking it. Let them know about any other drugs you take and what your medical history is beyond hypertension.
Although rare, if you or someone you know has abused Losartan, you can contact your local treatment center for help.