Take candesartan once each day. You can take the tablets either before or after a meal.
Any side-effects are usually mild. They include headache and feeling dizzy.
Some painkillers may interfere with candesartan and increase the risk of side-effects, so ask a pharmacist for advice before you buy any medicines.
Clinical author's note: Michael Stewart 15/11/2018: following an MHRA update, new advice has been added to this leaflet for people also taking the blood pressure medicine hydrochlorothiazide. Hydrochlorothiazide is only available in the UK in combination with other blood pressure medicines. It may be available on its own in other countries. For more information see 'Getting the most from your treatment' below or view the MHRA Alert.
|Type of medicine
|An angiotensin-II receptor antagonist
|Hypertension; heart failure
|Also called (UK)
|Also called (USA)
|Atacand®; Atacand HCT® (candesartan with hydrochlorothiazide)
Candesartan is an angiotensin receptor blocker. It is also called an angiotensin-II receptor antagonist, or an AIIRA. You will have been prescribed candesartan either because your heart is not working as well as it should (heart failure), or because your blood pressure is too high (hypertension). People with high blood pressure usually feel well but, if left untreated, high blood pressure can harm the heart and damage blood vessels.
Candesartan works by blocking the effect of a chemical called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes your blood vessels to narrow, so by blocking its effect, candesartan allows your blood vessels to relax and widen. As this happens, the pressure within your blood vessels is reduced and it is easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
Before taking candesartan
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking candesartan it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding.
- If you have a problem with your kidneys, particularly if it is a blockage of the artery which supplies blood to your kidneys.
- If you have any problems with your heart valves or heart muscle.
- If you have a problem with the way your liver works, or if you have a condition which blocks the flow of bile from your liver, called cholestasis.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take candesartan
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about candesartan and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take candesartan once each day, exactly as your doctor tells you to. There are several different strengths of tablet available (2 mg, 4 mg, 8 mg, 16 mg and 32 mg). When you first start treatment your doctor may gradually increase the strength of the tablets to suit your condition. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets, it's a good idea to check the strength on the packet to make sure they are what you are expecting.
- Try to take candesartan at the same time of day each day. For most people this will be in the morning. Taking your doses at the same time each day will help you to remember to take candesartan regularly.
- Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. You can take candesartan either before or after a meal.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, miss out the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your progress can be monitored and your blood pressure measured. Your doctor may want you to have some blood tests from time to time to check on your kidneys, and also how much potassium is in your blood.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with candesartan. This is because some anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) may interfere with the way it works, and also may increase the risk of side-effects.
- It is very important that you follow any dietary and lifestyle advice that you may have been given by your doctor, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may recommend that you do not drink alcohol while you are on candesartan because it will increase the risk of side-effects, such as feeling dizzy or faint.
- Try to avoid salt substitutes which contain potassium. This is because the substitutes will increase the amount of potassium in your blood and this can cause problems.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking candesartan. This is because your blood pressure may drop too low if you are given some anaesthetics.
- Treatment with candesartan is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets regularly, unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor.
If you are also taking hydrochlorothiazide in combination with this medicine
- Studies have suggested that taking higher doses of hydrochlorothiazide for long periods of time may increase the risk of certain skin cancers.
- Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated for skin cancer before.
- Tell your doctor about any new or changed moles or worrying marks on your skin.
- Use a sunscreen in strong sunlight. Do not use sunbeds.
Can candesartan cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with candesartan. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common candesartan side-effects (these affect fewer than 1 in 10 people)
|What can I do if I experience this?
|Feeling light-headed or dizzy
|If troublesome, speak with your doctor. Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected
|Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, let your doctor know
|Speak with your doctor if troublesome
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store candesartan
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Amias®s 2 mg, 4 mg, 8 mg, 16 mg and 32 mg Tablets; Neon Healthcare Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2021.
Medicines Complete BNF 86th Edition; British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.