Valsartan | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

valsartan, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Diovan
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for valsartan

Oral tablet
1

Valsartan is an oral drug that’s used to lower blood pressure, treat heart failure, or to increase your chance of survival after a heart attack.

2

Your dose depends on the condition that you’re taking valsartan for. The dose ranges from 40–320 mg taken by mouth once or twice per day. Your doctor will decide a dose that’s right for you.

3

You shouldn’t take this drug if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Valsartan can harm or be fatal to a developing baby. If you become pregnant, stop taking valsartan and call your doctor right away.

4

Valsartan can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and headache. You may have a higher risk if you’re dehydrated or take high doses of water pills (diuretics).

5

Common side effects include headache, dizziness, tiredness, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, skin rash, and more.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to effects that may be dangerous.

Use during pregnancy warning. You shouldn’t take this drug if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug can harm or be fatal to your unborn baby. Talk to your doctor about other ways to treat your condition if you become pregnant. If you get pregnant while taking this drug, stop taking it and call your doctor right away.

Low blood pressure

This drug can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and headache. You may have a higher risk if you’re dehydrated or take high doses of water pills (diuretics).

High blood potassium

This drug can increase your potassium levels. Your risk may be higher if you have kidney problems or heart failure. Your doctor may check your potassium levels with blood tests while you’re taking this drug.

What is valsartan?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral tablet.

This drug is available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand.  Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

This drug may be taken as part of a combination therapy with other drugs.

Why it's used

This drug is used to lower high blood pressure in adults and children aged 6 years and older. This drug is also used to treat heart failure in adults. It may also lower your chanced of being hospitalized from heart failure. It is also used to improve the chance of survival after a heart attack in adults.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. They are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. They are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by blocking the effect of angiotensin. This makes your blood vessels relax more. It also allows your kidney to get rid of extra water and salt. This helps lower your blood pressure.

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SECTION 2 of 5

valsartan Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

  • The most common side effects that occur with valsartan if you are taking it for high blood pressure include:

    • headache
    • dizziness
    • flu-like symptoms, such as fever and body aches
    • tiredness
    • stomach (abdominal) pain
  • The most common side effects that occur with valsartan if you are taking it for heart failure include:

    • dizziness
    • low blood pressure
    • diarrhea
    • joint and back pain
    • tiredness
    • signs and symptoms from high blood potassium, such as heart rhythm problems, muscle weakness, and slow heart rate
  • The most common side effects that occur with valsartan if you are taking it to increase survival after you have had a heart attack include:

    • low blood pressure
    • cough
    • skin rash

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

  • low blood pressure. Symptoms include:

    • feeling faint
    • dizziness
  • kidney disease. If you already have kidney disease, this drug could make your kidney function worse. Symptoms of kidney disease include:

    • swelling in your feet, ankles, or hands
    • unexplained weight gain
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

valsartan May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Valsartan can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or cause the drugs that you take to not work as well. To help prevent interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Using alcohol with valsartan can increase your risk for low blood pressure. This may cause you to faint or feel dizzy.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Blood pressure drugs

When taken with valsartan, these drugs may increase your risk for low blood pressure, high blood potassium, and kidney problems.

These drugs include:

  • angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), such as:
    • candesartan
    • eprosartan
    • irbesartan
    • losartan
    • olmesartan
    • telmisartan
    • valsartan
    • azilsartan
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as:
    • benazepril
    • captopril 
    • enalapril
    • fosinopril
    • lisinopril
    • moexipril
    • perindopril
    • quinapril
    • ramipril
    • trandolapril
  • renin inhibitor, such as:
    • aliskiren 

Potassium supplements

Taking these drugs with valsartan can increase the amount of potassium in your body.

Certain diuretics

Taking potassium-sparing diuretics with valsartan can increase the amount of potassium in your body.

These drugs include:

  • spironolactone
  • amiloride
  • triamterene

Mood stabilizers

Valsartan can increase the effects of these medications.

These drugs include:

  • lithium

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

These drugs can decrease your kidney function when taken with valsartan.

These drugs include:

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
severe heart failure
People with severe heart failure or kidney disease

This drug may increase your risk for kidney problems and reduce how much urine you make.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. The benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks in certain cases.

This drug can harm or be fatal to your fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Valsartan should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if this drug passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a child who is breast-fed.

You should talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this drug and breast-feeding. You may need to decide whether you’ll take this drug or breast-feed.

For seniors
For seniors

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of this drug to be higher than normal in your body. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For children
For children

This drug isn’t recommended for children younger than 6 years. This drug can be used in children older than 6 years for the treatment of high blood pressure. 

If your child has a kidney problem, they may need to be monitored more closely for kidney changes and blood potassium levels while they’re taking this drug.

Allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it before. Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

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How to Take valsartan (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your doctor will tell you what dosage is right for you. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Brand: Diovan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg

Generic: valsartan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg
Adult dosage (ages 17–64 years)
  • starting dose: 80–160 mg taken by mouth once per day
  • dose range: 80–320 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 6–16 years)
  • starting dose: 1.3 mg/kg of body weight taken by mouth once daily (up to 40 mg total per day)
  • dose range: 1.3–2.7  mg/kg of body weight taken once daily (up to 40–160 mg total per day)
Child dosage (ages 0–5 years)

This medicine shouldn’t be used in children younger than 6 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of this drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Special considerations

Valsartan hasn’t been studied in people with severe kidney or liver problems. If possible, a different drug should be used. If valsartan must be used, your doctor may use a lower dose and monitor for side effects.

Heart failure

Brand: Diovan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg

Generic: valsartan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • starting dose: 40 mg taken by mouth twice per day
  • dose range: 40–160 mg taken twice per day
  • target maintenance dose: 160 mg taken twice per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medicine shouldn’t be used in children younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of this drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Special considerations

Valsartan hasn’t been studied in people with severe kidney or liver problems. If possible, a different drug should be used. If valsartan must be used, your doctor may use a lower dose and monitor for side effects.

Increase survival after heart attack

Brand: Diovan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg

Generic: valsartan

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg, 320 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • starting dose: 20 mg taken by mouth twice per day
  • dose range: 20–160 mg taken twice per day
  • target maintenance dose: 160 mg taken twice per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medicine shouldn’t be used in children younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of this drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Special considerations

Valsartan hasn’t been studied in people with severe kidney or liver problems. If possible, a different drug should be used. If valsartan must be used, your doctor may use a lower dose and monitor for side effects.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If you don't take it at all

Your blood pressure will stay high. This may raise your risk for a heart attack and stroke.

If you stop taking it suddenly

Your blood pressure may suddenly increase. This can cause anxiety, sweating, and a fast heart rate.

If you don't take it on schedule

You may not feel any different, but your blood pressure may not be controlled. This can put you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s just a few hours before the time for your next dose, then wait and only take one dose at that time.

Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could cause toxic side effects.

If you take too much

If you take too much of your valsartan, you might have these symptoms:

  • a feeling that your heart is pounding
  • weakness
  • dizziness

If you think you have taken too much valsartan, call your doctor or poison control center, or go to the nearest emergency room. 

How to tell the drug is working

You may not be able to tell if the drug is working. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and other symptoms of your condition regularly to tell if this drug is working for you.

This drug is a long-term treatment.

You cannot cut or crush the tablet

If your child is taking this drug and cannot swallow tablets or if tablets aren’t available, your pharmacist will mix this drug as a liquid suspension for your child.

This drug must be stored carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 59°F (15°C) and 86°F (30°C).
  • Keep this drug closed in its original container in a dry place. 
  • Store bottles of the suspension at room temperature less than 86°F (30°C) for up to 30 days. Or keep it refrigerated between 35°F (2°C) and 46°F (8°C) for up to 75 days. 
  • Keep this drug and all medicines out of the reach of children. 
  • Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show airport security staff the pharmacy prescription label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • This medication may need to be refrigerated if you have a suspension. You may need to use an insulated bag with a cold pack to maintain the temperature when traveling.
  • Don’t put this medicine in your glove compartment or leave it in the car, especially when the temperature is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

You may need to check your blood pressure at home. You may also need to purchase a blood pressure monitor. You should keep a log with the date, time of day, and your blood pressure readings. Bring this diary with you to your doctor appointments.

Clinical monitoring

During treatment with this drug, your doctor may check your:

  • blood pressure
  • kidney function
  • electrolyte levels

Hidden costs

You may need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure at home. These are available at most pharmacies.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other options that may work for you.

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How Much Does valsartan Cost?

Oral tablet

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Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 15, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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