Triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules are indicated for the treatment of hypertension or edema in patients who develop hypokalemia on hydrochlorothiazide alone.
Triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules are also indicated for those patients who require a thiazide diuretic and in whom the development of hypokalemia cannot be risked.
Triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules may be used alone or as an adjunct to other antihypertensive drugs, such as beta-blockers. Since triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules may enhance the action of these agents, dosage adjustments may be necessary.
The routine use of diuretics in an otherwise healthy woman is inappropriate and exposes mother and fetus to unnecessary hazard. Diuretics do not prevent development of toxemia of pregnancy, and there is no satisfactory evidence that they are useful in the treatment of developed toxemia.
Edema during pregnancy may arise from pathological causes or from the physiologic and mechanical consequences of pregnancy. Diuretics are indicated in pregnancy when edema is due to pathologic causes, just as they are in the absence of pregnancy. Dependent edema in pregnancy resulting from restriction of venous return by the expanded uterus is properly treated through elevation of the lower extremities and use of support hose; use of diuretics to lower intravascular volume in this case is illogical and unnecessary. There is hypervolemia during normal pregnancy which is harmful to neither the fetus nor the mother (in the absence of cardiovascular disease), but which is associated with edema, including generalized edema in the majority of pregnant women. If this edema produces discomfort, increased recumbency will often provide relief. In rare instances this edema may cause extreme discomfort which is not relieved by rest. In these cases, a short course of diuretics may provide relief and may be appropriate.
Triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules should not be given to patients receiving other potassium-sparing agents such as spironolactone, amiloride, or other formulations containing triamterene. Concomitant potassium-containing salt substitutes should also not be used.
Potassium supplementation should not be used with triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules except in severe cases of hypokalemia. Such concomitant therapy can be associated with rapid increases in serum potassium levels. If potassium supplementation is used, careful monitoring of the serum potassium level is necessary.
Abnormal elevation of serum potassium levels (greater than or equal to 5.5 mEq/liter) can occur with all potassium-sparing diuretic combinations, including triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules. Hyperkalemia is more likely to occur in patients with renal impairment and diabetes (even without evidence of renal impairment) and in the elderly or severely ill. Since uncorrected hyperkalemia may be fatal, serum potassium levels must be monitored at frequent intervals especially in patients first receiving triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules, when dosages are changed, or with any illness that may influence renal function.
If hyperkalemia is suspected (warning signs include paresthesias, muscular weakness, fatigue, flaccid paralysis of the extremities, bradycardia, and shock), an electrocardiogram (ECG) should be obtained. However, it is important to monitor serum potassium levels because hyperkalemia may not be associated with ECG changes.
If hyperkalemia is present, triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules should be discontinued immediately and a thiazide alone should be substituted. If the serum potassium exceeds 6.5 mEq/L more vigorous therapy is required. The clinical situation dictates the procedures to be employed. These include the intravenous administration of calcium chloride solution, sodium bicarbonate solution, and/or the oral or parenteral administration of glucose with a rapid-acting insulin preparation. Cationic exchange resins such as sodium polystyrene sulfonate may be orally or rectally administered. Persistent hyperkalemia may require dialysis.
The development of hyperkalemia associated with potassium-sparing diuretics is accentuated in the presence of renal impairment (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). Patients with mild renal functional impairment should not receive this drug without frequent and continuing monitoring of serum electrolytes. Cumulative drug effects may be observed in patients with impaired renal function. The renal clearances of hydrochlorothiazide and the pharmacologically active metabolite of triamterene, the sulfate ester of hydroxytriamterene, have been shown to be reduced and the plasma levels increased following administration of triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide to elderly patients and patients with impaired renal function.
Hyperkalemia has been reported in diabetic patients with the use of potassium-sparing agents even in the absence of apparent renal impairment. Accordingly, serum electrolytes must be frequently monitored if triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules are used in diabetic patients.
Metabolic or Respiratory Acidosis
Potassium-sparing therapy should also be avoided in severely ill patients in whom respiratory or metabolic acidosis may occur. Acidosis may be associated with rapid elevations in serum potassium levels. If triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules are employed, frequent evaluations of acid/base balance and serum electrolytes are necessary.
Acute Myopia and Secondary Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Hydrochlorothiazide, a sulfonamide, can cause an idiosyncratic reaction, resulting in acute transient myopia and acute angle-closure glaucoma. Symptoms include acute onset of decreased visual acuity or ocular pain and typically occur within hours to weeks of drug initiation. Untreated acute angle-closure glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. The primary treatment is to discontinue hydrochlorothiazide as rapidly as possible. Prompt medical or surgical treatments may need to be considered if the intraocular pressure remains uncontrolled. Risk factors for developing acute angle-closure glaucoma may include a history of sulfonamide or penicillin allergy.
Caution should be exercised when administering triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules to patients with diabetes, since thiazides may cause hyperglycemia, glycosuria, and alter insulin requirements in diabetes. Also, diabetes mellitus may become manifest during thiazide administration.
Thiazides should be used with caution in patients with impaired hepatic function. They can precipitate hepatic coma in patients with severe liver disease. Potassium depletion induced by the thiazide may be important in this connection. Administer triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules cautiously and be alert for early signs of impending coma such as confusion, drowsiness, and tremor; if mental confusion increases, discontinue triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules for a few days. Attention must be given to other factors that may precipitate hepatic coma, such as blood in the gastrointestinal tract or pre-existing potassium depletion.
Hypokalemia is uncommon with triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules; but, should it develop, corrective measures should be taken such as potassium supplementation or increased intake of potassium-rich foods. Institute such measures cautiously with frequent determinations of serum potassium levels, especially in patients receiving digitalis or with a history of cardiac arrhythmias. If serious hypokalemia (serum potassium less than 3 mEq/L) is demonstrated by repeat serum potassium determinations, triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide capsules should be discontinued and potassium chloride supplementation initiated. Less serious hypokalemia should be evaluated with regard to other coexisting conditions and treated accordingly.
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