Ambrisentan is used to treat high blood pressure in people who have pulmonary arterial hypertension.
The usual dose is one 5 mg tablet daily. You can take ambrisentan either with or without food.The most common side-effects are headache, and swollen feet and ankles.
|Type of medicine||A vasodilator antihypertensive medicine, called an endothelin receptor antagonist|
|Used for||Pulmonary arterial hypertension in adults|
Ambrisentan is prescribed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This is a condition where there is too high a blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs from the 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.
Before taking ambrisentan
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can 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 or could become pregnant, or if you are breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or if you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have been told you have a reduced number of red blood cells (anaemia).
- If you have been told you have a condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), where there is scarring in your lungs.
- 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, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take ambrisentan tablets
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about ambrisentan, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could 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 either with or without food.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, leave out the forgotten dose from the previous day and take the dose that is due as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- 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 you do not develop anaemia. Your doctor will also want to check that your liver stays healthy. Signs that your liver may not be working properly are feeling sick, a high temperature, dark urine, jaundice, stomach pain, feeling unusually tired, and flu-like symptoms - let your doctor know straightaway if you develop any of these.
- You must avoid getting pregnant while you are taking ambrisentan because it could 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 taken long-term reduces 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 'over the counter', always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with ambrisentan.
Can ambrisentan tablets cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the more common ones associated with ambrisentan. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. 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)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Headache||Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor|
|Swollen feet or ankles||If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Common ambrisentan side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or weak||Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected|
|Flushing, sinus infections, nosebleeds, feeling short of breath, a stuffy or runny nose, the sensation of having a 'thumping heart' (palpitations), chest pain||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Feeling sick or being sick (vomiting), stomach ache, diarrhoea||Eat simple meals - avoid fatty or spicy food. Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Constipation||Eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water|
|Changes to some blood tests||Your doctor will regularly check for these|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store ambrisentan
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
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 November 2015.
- British National Formulary; 72nd Edition (Sep 2016) 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 makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall