Sounds like 'KAN-de-SAR-tan"

Key points about candesartan

  • Candesartan is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • It also helps protects your kidneys if you have diabetic kidney disease. 
  • Candesartan is also called Atacand or Candestar.
  • Find out how to take it safely and the possible side effects. 
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Candesartan has many different effects on your body and is used to treat a variety of conditions. It belongs to a group of medicines called angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs. Candesartan may be used for:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) by relaxing your blood vessels and lowering your blood pressure.
  • Heart failure to help your heart pump blood more easily – this can help to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and swelling of feet, legs and abdomen. It can also help prevent strokes and heart attacks.
  • Diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) to protect your kidneys and help them to function.

In Aotearoa New Zealand candesartan is available as tablets which come in different strengths: 4 mg, 8 mg, 16 mg and 32 mg.

  • The dose of candesartan will be different for different people. Your doctor will tell you the dose that is right for you. Your dose of candesartan will depend on what it is being used for.
  • Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose and increase the dose depending on how you respond. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects.
  • Always take your candesartan exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much candesartan to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.
  • Candesartan tablets are available in different strengths. If your tablets look different to your last supply talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it.

  • Take candesartan once a day. Take your dose at about the same time each day. Candesartan is best taken in the morning, with or without food.
  • Stay hydrated and make sure you drink enough water. This is especially important during exercise and hot weather, which can increase your risk of dehydration. If you do not drink enough water you may feel faint, light-headed or sick.
  • Limit alcohol while taking candesartan. Having the occasional drink while you are taking candesartan is safe. However, regularly drinking excessive amounts increases your chance of side effects and reduces the effects of candesartan.
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Here are some things to know when you're taking candesartan. Other things may be important as well, so ask your healthcare provider what you should know about.

Be careful when taking pain relief medicines

Check with your healthcare provider before taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relief medication (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, while you are taking candesartan. This combination can be very harmful to your kidneys and can cause acute kidney injury. You have a higher risk of harming your kidneys if you are taking water pills (diuretics), are older or are dehydrated. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a safer pain relief option. Read more about NSAIDs and protecting your kidneys.

Examples of NSAIDs
  • ibuprofen (Ibugesic, I-Profen, Nurofen)
  • diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • naproxen (Noflam, Naprosyn)
  • mefenamic acid (Ponstan)
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)

Have a sick day plan

If you have diarrhoea (runny poo) or are vomiting (being sick) from a stomach bug, or have dehydration from other causes, it’s important to let your doctor know. They may advise you to stop taking candesartan for a few days and restart when you feel better. The reason for this is that this medicine can increase the amount of potassium salts in your blood, particularly if you are dehydrated.

Pregnant or planning a pregnancy

Do not take candesartan if you are pregnant, or if there is a chance you could become pregnant. Candesartan can cause birth defects and is harmful to unborn babies. Talk to your healthcare provider about alternative blood pressure medicines.

Candesartan and other medicines or supplements

Candesartan can interact with some medications, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting candesartan and before starting any new products.

Like all medicines, candesartan can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Feeling faint when you stand up
  • This is quite common when you first start taking candesartan and usually goes away with time.
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls. These effects put you at risk of falls and injuries, especially if you are an older adult.
  • Stand up slowly. If you do feel dizzy sit or lie down for a few moments.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Tell your doctor if this continues.
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • This is less common and may be a sign of rising potassium levels.
  • Tell your doctor – you may need a blood test to check the amount of potassium in your blood.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face and mouth or difficulty breathing, such as chest tightness or wheezing
  • Allergic reactions are rare but serious.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the abdomen
  • Liver problems are rare but serious.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116 
For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflet/s below.

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

The following links have more information on candesartan:


  1. Candesartan(external link) NZ Formulary, NZ


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5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

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Credits: Healthify He Puna Waiora Pharmacists. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Maya Patel, MPharm PGDipClinPharm, Auckland

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