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Valsartan and amlodipine are connected by the fact that they are both anti-hypertensives. The two drugs belong to different classes and work by different mechanisms, but both valsartan and amlodipine are used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker, and valsartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker. Both medications lower blood pressure.
Hypertension has become an increasingly common disease. The resultant increase in the workload of the blood vessels on the heart can cause damage to the blood vessels of the heart, brain and kidneys. If one's blood pressure is not controlled, over time, this can result in heart failure, stroke or kidney failure. Both valsartan and amlodipine can be used to lower one's blood pressure and prevent this long-term damage.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers, such as valsartan, work on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone pathway. This is a complex system of hormones that control fluid volume — the amount of blood circulating —,and the vasoconstriction of the vessels. By blocking the angiotensin II receptors, valsartan inhibits the action of angiotensin II. This results in less vasoconstriction and a lowering of the blood pressure.
Amlodipine works to lower the blood pressure by a different mechanism. Calcium is involved in vasoconstriction of blood vessels, and calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine, do as their name implies — they block the calcium channels. This relaxes the blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart without increasing its workload. Blood pressure is thus lowered.
The choice of whether valsartan or amlodipine is used will be made by a medical doctor, taking a number of factors into consideration. These include allergies, medical history, other medications and co-morbid diseases. Both valsartan and amlodipine can be used to treat other cardiovascular conditions as well. Amlodipine is also indicated for the treatment of angina. Valsartan, on the other hand, can also be used to treat heart failure and is used after a myocardial infarction, or heart attack.
All drugs might have adverse side effects, and valsartan and amlodipine are no exception. Both drugs may cause dizziness or postural hypotension. Any adverse effects that are experienced should be discussed with a medical professional. Plans for pregnancy, a current pregnancy and lactation should also be discussed with the prescribing doctor.
Both valsartan and amlodipine are available only by prescription from a medical doctor. Lifestyle factors, such as dietary changes, increased exercise and stress management should be considered in combination with hypertension medication for the treatment of high blood pressure. Valsartan and amlodipine might be prescribed together in cases when one drug alone does not control the patient's hypertension.