1. About candesartan
This medicine is only available on prescription. It comes as tablets.
NHS coronavirus advice
If you have coronavirus, or think you might have it, keep taking your blood pressure medicines as usual.
There is no clear evidence that taking angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) like candesartan will cause complications.
Updated: 17 March 2020
2. Key facts
- Candesartan lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
- It's often used as a second-choice treatment if you had to stop taking your first because it gave you a dry, irritating cough.
- The main side effects of candesartan are dizziness, headache and cold or flu-like symptoms - but they're usually mild and short-lived.
- If you get severe diarrhoea or vomiting from a stomach bug or illness, tell your doctor. You may need to stop taking candesartan for a while until you feel better.
- Drinking alcohol can increase the blood pressure-lowering effect of candesartan, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Candesartan is also called by the brand name Amias.
3. Who can and cannot take candesartan
Candesartan can be taken by adults aged 18 and over.
It can also be taken by children aged 6 years and over, but only to treat high blood pressure.
Candesartan is meant for people who have tried taking blood pressure-lowering medicines called ACE inhibitors (such as ramipril and lisinopril) in the past, but had to stop taking them because of side effects such as a dry cough.
Candesartan isn't suitable for some people.
To make sure candesartan is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- diarrhoea (or if you've recently had it) or you're being sick (vomiting)
- been on a low salt diet
- recently had a kidney transplant
- if you have had an allergic reaction to candesartan or any other medicines in the past
- severe liver disease or a problem with the drainage of the bile from your gall bladder (biliary obstruction)
- heart, liver or kidney problems
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or you're breastfeeding
4. How and when to take it
It's usual to take candesartan tablets once a day. You can take your candesartan tablet at any time of day, but try to be consistent and take it at the same time every day.
You can take candesartan tablets with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water.
The dose of candesartan you take depends on why you need the medicine. Take it as instructed by your doctor.
As a general rule in adults, the dose to treat:
- high blood pressure is 8mg to 32mg once a day
- heart failure is 4mg to 32mg once a day
In people with liver or kidney problems, the dose may be lower.
As a general rule in children (aged 6 years and over), the dose to treat high blood pressure is:
- for children weighing less than 50kg, the dose is 4mg to 8mg once a day
- for children weighing 50kg and more, the dose is 4mg to 16mg once daily
Will my dose go up or down?
You will start on a low dose of candesartan. After a few weeks your doctor will check your blood pressure and ask you if you're getting any side effects. You may also have blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working and the amount of potassium in your blood. Your doctor will then decide whether to change your dose of candesartan.
If candesartan doesn't get your blood pressure down, your doctor may want to increase the dose. If your blood pressure gets too low or you get side effects, your doctor may want to lower your candesartan dose.
Take candesartan even if you feel well, as you will still be getting the benefits of the medicine.
What if I get sick while I'm taking it?
If you get severe diarrhoea or vomiting for any reason, contact your doctor or a pharmacist. They’ll be able to advise you about what to do.
They may recommend that you stop taking candesartan until you’re better, and you’re able to eat and drink normally again.
What if I forget to take it?
If you miss a dose of candesartan, take it as soon as you remember. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways that are suitable for you and your medicines.
What if I take too much?
If you take too many candesartan tablets by accident, contact your doctor or nearest hospital straight away. An overdose of candesartan can cause low blood pressure and dizziness.
The amount of candesartan that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, candesartan can cause side effects although not everyone gets them. Side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don't go away:
- feeling dizzy or having a spinning sensation (vertigo)
- feeling sick (nausea)
- being sick (vomiting) or diarrhoea
- pain in your joints or muscles
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but some people have serious side effects after taking candesartan. Call a doctor straight away if you have:
- yellow skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow - this can be a sign of liver problems
- pale skin, feeling tired, faint or dizzy, purple spots, any sign of bleeding, sore throat and fever - these can be signs of blood or bone marrow disorder
- weakness, an irregular heartbeat, pins and needles and muscle cramps - these can be signs of changes in the sodium and potassium levels in your blood
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, candesartan may cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
These are not all the side effects of candesartan. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- feeling dizzy - if candesartan makes you feel dizzy when you stand up, try getting up very slowly or stay sitting down until you feel better. If you begin to feel dizzy, lie down so that you don't faint, then sit until you feel better. Do not drive or use tools or machines if you feel dizzy, have muscle cramps or muscle pain, or if you just feel a bit shaky.
- feeling sick (nausea) - try taking your tablets with or after a meal or snack. It may also help if you don't eat rich or spicy food.
- headaches - make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking candesartan. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.
- being sick (vomiting) or diarrhoea - drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If you're being sick try small, frequent sips. Speak to a pharmacist if you have signs of dehydration, such as peeing less than usual or having dark, strong-smelling pee. If you get severe vomiting or diarrhoea from a stomach bug or illness, tell your doctor. You may need to stop taking candesartan for a while until you feel better.
- pain in your joints or muscles - if you get unusual muscle pain, weakness or tiredness which isn't from exercise or hard work, talk to your doctor. You may need a blood test to check what might be causing it.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Candesartan is not normally recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding. However, your doctor may prescribe it for you if they think the benefits of the medicine outweigh the risks.
If you're trying to get pregnant or you're already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking candesartan. These will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and the reason you need to take it. There may be other treatments that are safer for you.
For more information about how candesartan can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read this leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
Candesartan and breastfeeding
Small amounts of candesartan may get into breast milk. This can cause low blood pressure in the baby. Talk to your doctor, as other medicines might be better while you are breastfeeding.
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines interfere with the way candesartan works.
Tell your doctor if you're taking:
- other medicines to help lower your blood pressure, including aliskiren, enalapril, captopril, lisinopril or ramipril
- painkillers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib or etoricoxib
- aspirin (if you're taking more than 3g a day)
- potassium supplements or salt substitutes containing potassium
- heparin (a medicine for thinning the blood)
- water tablets (diuretics)
- lithium (a medicine for mental health problems)
- spironolactone (a medicine to treat heart failure)
Mixing candesartan with herbal remedies or supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements with candesartan.
9. Common questions
How does candesartan work?
How long does it take to work?
How long will I take it for?
Is candesartan safe to take for a long time?
What will happen if I stop taking it?
Can I come off candesartan now my blood pressure is lower?
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Are there similar medicines to candesartan?
How does candesartan differ from other angiotensin receptor blockers?
Can I take candesartan before surgery?
Can I take candesartan for migraines?
Can I take candesartan to protect myself against Alzheimer's disease?
Is candesartan addictive?
Will it affect my sex life?
Will it affect my fertility?
Will it affect my contraception?
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Can lifestyle changes help?
Page last reviewed: 13/12/2018
Next review due: 13/12/2021