What Is Benicar?
Benicar (olmesartan) is a prescription medication option used to treat hypertension with or without other blood pressure medications. As a member of the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) medication class, Benicar lowers blood pressure by blocking angiotensin II—a type of hormone.
Angiotensin II raises blood pressure by squeezing blood vessels and encouraging the release of aldosterone, which is another type of hormone. Aldosterone increases blood pressure by influencing the kidneys to hold onto salt and water. Higher amounts of salt and water in the body lead to higher blood pressure.
Angiotensin II and aldosterone are some of the hormones in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) that influences blood pressure.
Benicar is available in tablet form.
Generic Name: Olmesartan
Brand Name(s): Benicar
Drug Availability: Prescription
Administration Route: Oral
Therapeutic Classification: Angiotensin II receptor antagonist
Available Generically: Yes
Controlled Substance: N/A
Active Ingredient: Olmesartan medoxomil
Dosage Form(s): Tablet
What Is Benicar Used For?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Benicar to treat hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, in people aged 6 years and older. In the United States (U.S.), half of adults have high blood pressure or are taking medications to treat high blood pressure. Hypertension is a blood pressure measurement with the top number being higher than 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or the bottom number being higher than 80 millimeters of mercury.
However, only a quarter of adults with hypertension have their conditions well-controlled. Many people don’t experience symptoms of high blood pressure until they have a heart attack or a stroke. Uncontrolled blood pressure raises the risk of these medical conditions, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S.
How to Take Benicar
Take Benicar once a day by mouth with or without food.
Since Benicar is a non-controlled prescription, your healthcare provider may give you refills up to one year of the originally written date. After picking Benicar up from the pharmacy, store the medication at room temperature—between 68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (F).
Healthcare providers have prescribed Benicar for the following non-approved uses:
- Proteinuric chronic kidney disease (CKD): Some people with CKD will have protein in their urine. Experts recommend an ARB—like Benicar—as one of the medication options to prevent CKD worsening.
- Heart attack: Experts recommend an ARB—like Benicar—in people who experience a heart attack if they can’t take an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I). ACE-Is work by preventing the body from making more angiotensin II.
- Heart failure: Experts also recommend an ARB—like Benicar—in people who have heart failure if they can’t take an ACE-I. People with heart failure have hearts that don’t pump as well as they used to.
How Long Does Benicar Take to Work?
You will notice lower blood pressure numbers within as little as one week or up to two weeks of taking Benicar.
What Are the Side Effects of Benicar?
Similar to many medications, side effects are possible with Benicar.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.
Common Side Effects
The most common side effect is dizziness.
Severe Side Effects
Seek medical attention if you experience dangerously low blood pressure. In particular, people with low water and salt in their bodies might experience dangerously low blood pressure when starting Benicar. Symptoms of drastically low blood pressure include:
- Blue skin tone
- Cold and sweaty skin
- Rapid breathing
- Severe dizziness and lightheadedness
- Weak and fast heartbeat
Also, seek medical attention if you suspect that your kidneys worsen. There is a higher risk of worsening kidney impairment in people with lower-functioning kidneys. Worsening of symptoms or developing new symptoms might point to worsening kidney function. Symptoms of impaired kidneys may include:
- Ammonia-smelling breath
- Appetite loss
- Foamy urine
- Pain in the upper back
- Urinating difficulties
Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood pressure and kidneys for these severe side effects.
Dosage: How Much Benicar Should I Take?
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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
For oral dosage form (tablets):
For high blood pressure:
- Adults—At first, 20 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 40 mg once a day.
- Children 6 to 16 years of age weighing 35 kilograms (kg) or more—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 20 to 40 mg once a day. If the child cannot swallow the tablets, an oral suspension is recommended.
- Children 6 to 16 years of age weighing at least 20 kg and less than 35 kg—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 10 to 20 mg once a day. If the child cannot swallow the tablets, an oral suspension is recommended.
- Children 1 to 5 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- Children younger than 1 year of age—Use is not recommended.
- For high blood pressure:
In some instances, your healthcare provider may modify, or change, your dosage or treatment plan for Benicar.
In Black individuals, Benicar doesn’t lower blood pressure as well compared to other ARBs, ACE-Is, or beta-blockers. Beta-blockers block beta-receptors—chemical binding sites—to slow down heart rate, which might influence blood pressure.
Additionally, although there were no differences in the effectiveness and safety of Benicar between older adults over 65 years old and younger adults, older adults might be more sensitive to the effects of Benicar.
Depending on your kidney function, your healthcare provider may want to adjust your dose to prevent severe side effects.
Pregnancy or Nursing
If you are pregnant, immediately notify your healthcare provider—who will try to stop Benicar as soon as possible. Taking Benicar during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can lead to negative effects on the fetus.
There is little effectiveness and safety data for breastfeeding while taking Benicar. It is unknown whether Benicar is present in human breast milk. However, it is present in rat milk. Additionally, in children under 1 year old, Benicar might have adverse effects on kidney development. Discuss with your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and risks of taking Benicar while nursing.
After one year of taking Benicar, there was no evidence of rebound high blood pressure with sudden discontinuation of this medication.
However, talk to your healthcare provider before stopping Benicar. Continue taking Benicar until you and your healthcare provider agree that you can stop treatment. Taking Benicar to lower your blood pressure might prevent serious complications—like a heart attack or stroke.
Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Benicar?
If you accidentally take too many Benicar tablets, you will likely experience drastically low blood pressure and changes in heart rate. Seek medical attention.
What Happens If I Overdose on Benicar?
If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Benicar, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).
If someone collapses or isn’t breathing after taking Benicar, call 911 immediately.
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It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Dizziness or lightheadedness may occur after the first dose of this medicine, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy.
Check with your doctor right away if you or your child become sick while taking this medicine, especially with severe or continuing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These conditions may cause you to lose too much water, and may lead to low blood pressure. You can also lose water by sweating, so drink plenty of water during exercise or in hot weather.
Severe, chronic diarrhea with weight loss may develop months to years after taking this medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.
Ask your doctor before you use medicines, supplements, or salt substitutes that contain potassium.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This especially includes over-the-counter (nonprescription) medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems, since they may tend to increase your blood pressure.
What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Benicar?
Do not take Benicar if either of the following applies to you:
- Pregnancy: As previously mentioned, taking Benicar during pregnancy might have negative effects on the fetus.
- Tekturna (aliskiren) use: If you have diabetes and you take Tekturna, the manufacturer—Noden Pharma—recommends avoiding Benicar.
What Other Medications Interact With Benicar?
If possible, avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with Benicar. Some examples of NSAIDs are Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve or Naprosyn (naproxen), which are commonly used for fever and pain relief. While taking Benicar, using NSAIDs may lessen Benicar’s effectiveness and worsen kidney function.
What Medications Are Similar?
In addition to Benicar, there are many blood pressure medications. Out of all the available blood pressure medications, the following are in the ARB medication class—like Benicar:
- Atacand (candesartan)
- Edarbi (azilsartan)
- Avapro (irbesartan)
- Cozaar (losartan)
- Micardis (telmisartan)
- Diovan (valsartan)
Since these medications are ARBs, they are usually not taken together. If you have any questions, please talk with your healthcare provider.
Olmesartan is a part of more combination products than many other available ARBs. Some people—who take more than one blood pressure medication—might find the availability of combination products convenient. Olmesartan combination products include:
- Azor (olmesartan with amlodipine)
- Benicar HCT (olmesartan with hydrochlorothiazide)
- Tribenzor (olmesartan with amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide)
Although Benicar has few drug and food interactions, there are some concerns about using this medication in people with lower-functioning kidneys. Benicar might also have negative effects in people with diabetes. Additionally, although lower blood pressure may prevent a heart attack or a stroke, Benicar has limited data about its impact on these important medical conditions compared to other ARBs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Benicar’s side effects ever go away?
Like most blood pressure medications, Benicar does have possible side effects. However, most of the common side effects are mild and temporary.
If your side effects are bothering you, talk with your healthcare provider. They can make some adjustments to lessen your side effects. However, seek immediate medical attention if you suspect that you are having a severe and life-threatening side effect.
Will I need other blood pressure medications in addition to Benicar?
The number of blood pressure medications varies by person. Few people achieve goal blood pressure numbers with just one medication. Some people will need to take more than one medication to lower blood pressure.
Do I have to take Benicar for life?
The length of Benicar therapy also varies by person. Some people do take Benicar for long periods. However, with a healthy diet and exercise routine, other people will achieve their blood pressure goals. Some healthcare providers may agree to lower your medication dose or have a trial period without blood pressure medications.
How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Benicar?
While taking Benicar for high blood pressure, lifestyle changes are important.
Verywell Health’s drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.