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Updated September 2022
Ambrisentan (brand name Volibris) is a medicine used to treat a condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This is a condition where there is increased pressure in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs.
PAH can occur in a number of rheumatological diseases such as scleroderma. These diseases can cause thickening of the blood vessel walls.
Symptoms include shortness of breath during routine activity, (such as climbing stairs), tiredness and chest pain.
Ambrisentan helps lower blood pressure in the lungs by preventing thickening of the blood vessels. This helps your heart pump blood through the blood vessels in the lungs more efficiently.
Ambrisentan can reduce the symptoms of PAH and in some cases prolong life expectancy. It may take up to 2 months or more before your symptoms start to improve.
Before ambrisentan can be prescribed, you will be assessed by a specialist such as a rheumatologist, immunologist, cardiologist (heart) or respiratory (lung) physician with experience in managing PAH.
You will be asked to have the following tests:
Every six months you will be asked to have the echocardiogram and the 6MWT to check that ambrisentan is still helping your condition.
Ambrisentan comes as a tablet in two strengths, 5mg and 10mg.
The normal starting dose is 5mg once a day. In some cases the dose may be increased by your doctor to 10mg once a day.
Ambrisentan should be taken at the same time each a day. If you forget to take a tablet you can take it later in the day. If it is the next day, take the normal dose (do not take a double dose). It does not have to be taken with food.
Ambrisentan may be taken in combination with other medicines, including:
There are a number of medicines that should not be taken when you are taking ambrisentan (see Precautions). There are also separate information sheets for the medicines mentioned above.
Ambrisentan may be given on a long term basis provided it does not cause problems and continues to help your condition. It is usually given for as long as the 6-monthly tests (echocardiogram and 6MWT) show that it is of benefit.
Do not stop taking ambrisentan without first talking to your doctor. If your doctor does decide to stop the treatment you may need to reduce the dose gradually before you stop the medicine completely.
Most people who take ambrisentan do not experience side effects. Tell your doctor if you are concerned about possible side effects. A reduction in dose may minimise the side effects so that you can continue to have this treatment.