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What should seniors know before using Diovan?

Before taking Diovan (valsartan), seniors should know why their doctors are prescribing this drug for them and what they can expect from taking it. Diovan belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), which relax and dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow. It is prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure (a condition in which the heart does not pump blood efficiently throughout the body), and to prolong life after a heart attack.

In studies, Diovan appeared to be just as effective and safe when taken by people ages 65 and older as when taken by younger people. Although seniors may take longer to metabolize Diovan, they usually do not need a different dose of Diovan than younger people.

However, seniors may be more likely to have other medical problems -- such as kidney or liver problems -- that can raise their risk of serious side effects from valsartan. Before taking Diovan, give your doctor a detailed medical history, including past and current health problems, especially problems with your heart, liver or kidneys, or any allergic reactions to drugs in the past. Once you are taking Diovan, keep your doctor informed of any changes in your health status.

Seniors may also be more likely than younger people to be taking other medications that might interact with Diovan, potentially raising the risk for side effects and other problems. Before taking Diovan, give your doctor and pharmacist a list of all your other medicines (prescription and nonprescription), as well as any supplements that you take. Once you are on Diovan, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new drug or supplement. Be especially careful to mention if you take:
  • other heart or blood pressure medicines
  • supplements or salt substitutes that contain potassium
  • diuretics (water pills)
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or celecoxib
  • antibiotics
  • drugs to treat infection with the HIV virus
  • the immune-suppressing drug cyclosporine

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.