Ambrisentan for pulmonary hypertension (Volibris)

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Ambrisentan is used to treat high blood pressure in people with pulmonary arterial hypertension.

The usual dose is one 5 mg tablet daily. You can take ambrisentan before or after food.

The most common side-effects are headache, and swollen feet and ankles.

Type of medicine Vasodilator antihypertensive medicine
Used for Pulmonary arterial hypertension in adults
Also called Volibris®
Available as Tablets

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a condition where there is too high a blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply your lungs from your heart.

Ambrisentan relaxes the muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessels to your lungs, allowing them to become wider (dilated). This reduces the pressure in these blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily through them. In turn, this increases the supply of blood to your lungs and improves your ability to do physical activities. It will be prescribed for you by a doctor who is a specialist.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking ambrisentan it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have been told you have a reduced number of red blood cells (anaemia).
  • If you have been told you have scarring of the lungs, a condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer’s leaflet will give you more information about ambrisentan and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take ambrisentan exactly as your doctor tells you to. The usual dose is one 5 mg tablet daily, although your doctor may increase the strength of your tablets to 10 mg if a higher dose is needed. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can generally take your dose at a time of day that suits you. You should, however, try to take each of your doses at a similar time of day, each day.
  • Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water - do not break or chew the tablets. You can take ambrisentan tablets before or after meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep all your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood tests while on ambrisentan to check that your liver stays healthy and that you do not develop anaemia.
  • You must avoid getting pregnant while you are taking ambrisentan because it can cause harm to an unborn baby. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.
  • It is possible that ambrisentan reduces the fertility in men by lowering the sperm count. Discuss this with your doctor if you have any concerns about it.
  • If you are due to have an operation or some other medical treatment, it is important that you tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking ambrisentan.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with your doctor or a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with ambrisentan.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with ambrisentan . You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common ambrisentan side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine
What can I do if I experience this?
 HeadacheAsk your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Swollen feet or anklesIf this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Common ambrisentan side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicineWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy, tired or weakIf this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines
Flushing, nosebleeds, feeling short of breath, a stuffy or runny nose, palpitations, chest painIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Feeling or being sick, stomach ache, diarrhoeaAvoid rich or spicy food and drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids
ConstipationEat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Changes to some blood testsYour doctor will regularly check for these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Volibris®; GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 65th Edition (Mar 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
28695 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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