Counteract high blood pressure with Candesartan (generic Atacand)

Candesartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker that relaxes and widens your blood vessels and thereby brings your blood pressure under control. 

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Written by Dr Kim Langdon, MD

Information last reviewed 06/21/19


What is Candesartan?

Candesartan is a medication used to help lower high blood pressure or treat patients in heart failure. It can sometimes be used in combination therapy, which means it can be prescribed in conjunction with other drugs. Candesartan belongs to a family of drugs called angiotensin receptor 2 blockers. The drug helps relax the blood vessels in the body. This reduces strain on the heart, which helps increase the survival of patients with heart failure. It also reduces the risk of future stroke, heart attack, and kidney problems.  

How does Candesartan work?

Candesartan (Atacand) is a type of antihypertensive drug known as an angiotensin II receptor blocker. Angiotensin II is a substance made by the liver that has effects upon the kidneys and brain. Specifically, angiotensin II, acts upon the kidneys and the adrenal gland in the brain to encourage salt and water to be retained by the body and the blood vessels to narrow. This has the effect of increasing blood pressure. Therefore, substances that block the effects of angiotensin II, are capable of reducing your blood pressure.

How long does Candesartan take to work?

Candesartan is used as part of a long term treatment plan. The medication starts to take effect after 2 hours, however, is it not a quick fix. For the full effect of the drug, it takes up to 4 weeks. If Candesartan is taken for heart failure, it can take weeks to notice a reduction in symptoms. Candesartan should not be stopped without consulting your doctor. Taking too much of Candesartan causes dizziness, low blood pressure and a spike in your heart rate. Try and remember to take your doses at the allocated times, however, if you miss a dose do not double your next dose and it causes toxic side effects. 

How effective is Candesartan?

Over 24 hours, Candesartan shows an effective reduction in blood pressure. There is little difference found between the maximum and through effects between doses. Candesartan is found to be more tolerable but as effective as other blood pressure-lowering drugs. 


Active ingredients

The active ingredient in Candesartan is candesartan cilexeti, an angiotensin II receptor blocker (antagonist). Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to narrow, so a substance that blocks the effect of angiotensin II can reduce your blood pressure, by allowing the blood vessels to relax and widen.

Inactive ingredients

Calcium carboxymethylcellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, iron oxide (except 4 mg tablets), lactose, magnesium stearate, maize starch and polyethylene glycol.

Which ingredients can cause an allergic reaction?

You should not take candesartan if you have had a previous allergic reaction to this medication. A severe allergic reaction to candesartan is rare and presents with hives/itch, swelling of the face and lips, severe dizziness, difficulty breathing and chest tightness. If you notice any of these symptoms, you could be having a severe allergic reaction and immediate medical attention. 


Candesartan dosage

The dose of Candesartan is 8mg once a day, and increased every 2 weeks as needed to achieve a goal blood pressure.

How to take Candesartan

Candesartan can be used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart failure in adults. The dosages will vary from person to person and depending upon which condition you are trying to treat (see below).

  • Hypertension: Initially, an 8 mg tablet of Candesartan is taken once daily. Depending upon the effectiveness of this, the dose may be increased by a doctor up to 32mg once a day.
  • Heart failure: Initially, a doctor will prescribe 4-8mg tablets to be taken once a day. At 2 week intervals, the dose will be doubled if possible, up to a maximum of 32mg per day.

What should I do if I miss a dose of Candesartan?

If it is within 12 hours of your missed dose (ie, if your missed dose was at 9 am and it is 5pm) you can take the missed dose late. However, if it is over 12 hours from your missed dose, just skip the missed dose and resume with your regular dose the next day. Do not double the dosage.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Common side effects, affecting more than 1 in 10 people are

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Kidney dysfunction

Less common side effects affecting 1-10% of people are

  • Dizziness
  • Elevated potassium
  • Back pain
  • Upper respiratory tract infection - sore throat, runny nose


Candesartan should not be used by people with the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes Mellitus

Drug Interactions

Candesartan may interact with several drugs including the following:

  • Alfuzosin
  • Aliskiren
  • Amifostine
  • Amphetamines
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihepaciviral Combination Products
  • Antipsychotic Agents (Second Generation [Atypical
  • Barbiturates
  • Benperidol
  • Brigatinib
  • Brimonidine (Topical
  • Bromperidol
  • CycloSPORINE (Systemic
  • Dapoxetine
  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Diazoxide
  • Drospirenone
  • DULoxetine
  • Eplerenone
  • Heparins (Low Molecular Weight
  • Herbs (Hypotensive Properties
  • Levodopa-Containing Products
  • Lithium
  • Lormetazepam
  • Methylphenidate
  • Molsidomine
  • Naftopidil
  • Nicergoline
  • Nicorandil
  • Nicorandil
  • Nitroprusside
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Obinutuzumab
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Pholcodine
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors
  • Potassium-Sparing Diuretics
  • Prostacyclin Analogues
  • Quinagolide
  • Ranolazine
  • Tacrolimus (Systemic)
  • Tolvaptan
  • Trimethoprim
  • Yohimbine


Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.

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