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Lotensin HCT

Pronounced: lo-TEN-sin
Generic ingredients: Benazepril hydrochloride, Hydrochlorothiazide

Why is this drug prescribed: Lotensin HCT combines two types of blood pressure medication. The first, benazepril hydrochloride, is an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor. It works by preventing a chemical in your blood called angiotensin I from converting into a more potent form (angiotensin II) that increases salt and water retention in the body and causes the blood vessels to constrict--two actions that tend to increase blood pressure. To aid in clearing excess water from the body, Lotensin HCT also contains hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that promotes production of urine. Diuretics often wash too much potassium out of the body along with the water. However, the ACE inhibitor part of Lotensin HCT tends to keep potassium in the body, thereby canceling this unwanted effect. Lotensin HCT is not used for the initial treatment of high blood pressure. It is saved for later use, when a single blood pressure medication is not sufficient for the job. In addition, some doctors are using Lotensin HCT along with other drugs to treat congestive heart failure.

Most important fact about this drug: You must take Lotensin HCT regularly for it to be effective. Since blood pressure declines gradually, it may be several weeks before you get the full benefit of Lotensin HCT; and you must continue taking it even if you are feeling well. Lotensin HCT does not cure high blood pressure; it merely keeps it under control.

How should you take this medication: Take Lotensin HCT exactly as prescribed, and see your doctor regularly to make sure the drug is working properly without unwanted side effects. Do not stop taking this drug without first consulting your doctor. --If you miss a dose... Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Never take 2 doses at the same time. --Storage instructions... Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container. Protect from moisture and light.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Lotensin HCT. More common side effects may include: Dizziness, fatigue, headache Less common side effects may include: Back pain, congestion and/or runny nose, cough, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, impotence, muscle tension, nausea, sinus inflammation, upper respiratory infection, vertigo (loss of balance) Rare side effects may include: Abnormal dreams, abnormal skin sensations (such as burning or prickling), arthritis, bronchitis, chest pain, chills, constipation, decreased sex drive, distorted sense of taste, dizziness upon standing, diarrhea, decreased sense of touch, dry mouth, excessive sweating, extremely low blood pressure, eye (retina) problems, fainting, fever, flushing, gas, gout, hair loss, increased need to urinate, indigestion, infection, insomnia, itchy skin, joint pain, loss of appetite, muscle aches, neck pain, nervousness, nosebleeds, pain, pinkeye, poor circulation in the limbs, rapid or irregular heartbeat, rash, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light, severe allergic reactions, stomach and intestinal inflammation, stomach pain, tooth problems, urinary tract infection, vision problems, voice problems, vomiting, weakness

Why should this drug not be prescribed: If you are unable to urinate, avoid this medication. You should not take this medication if you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the following: Lotensin, thiazide diuretics such as HydroDIURIL and Esidrix, ACE inhibitors such as captopril and Vasotec, or sulfa or other sulfonamide-derived drugs such as Bactrim and Septra. If you have a history of allergies or asthma, you may be at greater risk for an allergic reaction to this medication. Make sure your doctor is aware of any drug reactions you have experienced.

Special warnings about this medication: If you develop swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, or of your arms and legs, or have difficulty swallowing or breathing, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately. You may be having an allergic reaction and might need emergency treatment. You may feel light-headed, especially during the first few days of Lotensin HCT therapy. If this occurs, notify your doctor. If you actually faint, stop taking the medication until you have consulted with your doctor. Dehydration, excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea can all deplete your body's fluids and cause your blood pressure to drop. If this leads to light-headedness or fainting, you should check with your doctor. Inform your doctor or dentist that you are taking Lotensin HCT before undergoing surgery or anesthesia. Do not use potassium supplements or salt substitutes containing potassium without consulting your doctor. If you develop a sore throat or fever, contact your doctor immediately. It could indicate a more serious illness. Your doctor will probably check your kidney function when you start taking Lotensin HCT and do follow-up tests periodically thereafter. For people with severe kidney disease, doctors usually prescribe other blood pressure medications instead of Lotensin HCT. Caution is warranted, too, if you have liver disease. If you notice a yellow tinge to your skin and the whites of your eyes, stop taking the drug and notify your doctor. This could be a sign of liver damage. Lotensin HCT may increase your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. It may cause kidney problems in people with severe congestive heart failure. It can also trigger gout or the connective tissue disease lupus erythematosus. Use Lotensin HCT cautiously if you have any of these problems. The safety and effectiveness of Lotensin HCT in children have not been established.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: If Lotensin HCT is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Lotensin HCT with the following: Barbiturates such as phenobarbital Cholestyramine (Questran) Colestipol (Colestid) Corticosteroids such as prednisone or ACTH Diabetes medication such as insulin or Micronase Digoxin (Lanoxin) Diuretics such as HydroDIURIL and Lasix Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) Narcotics such as Percocet Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naprosyn Norepinephrine (Levophed) Other high blood pressure medications Potassium-sparing diuretics such as Aldactone, Dyazide, and Moduretic Potassium supplements such as Slow-K and K-Dur Salt substitutes containing potassium Alcohol may increase the effect of Lotensin HCT, and could cause dizziness or fainting. Check with your doctor before drinking alcoholic beverages.

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: ACE inhibitors such as the one in Lotensin HCT have been shown to cause injury and even death to the unborn child when used in pregnancy during the second and third trimesters. If you are pregnant, your doctor should discontinue this medication as soon as possible. If you plan to become pregnant, make sure your doctor knows you are taking this medication. The diuretic component of Lotensin HCT can cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) and abnormal bruising and bleeding in newborns. Lotensin HCT appears in breast milk and could affect a nursing infant. To avoid potential harm to the baby, you'll need to choose between breastfeeding and continuing your treatment with Lotensin HCT.

Recommended dosage: Lotensin HCT is usually taken once a day. Your doctor will adjust the dosage depending on how your blood pressure responds. The smallest dose that is effective should be used.

Overdosage: Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of Lotensin HCT overdose may include: A severe drop in blood pressure, dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscle pain or cramps, nausea and vomiting, weak or irregular heartbeat, weakness and dizziness

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