Irbesartan - an angiotensin receptor blocker

  • Irbesartan is taken once each day. You can take it before or after meals.
  • Some painkillers interfere with irbesartan, so ask your pharmacist for advice before you buy any medicines.
Type of medicine Angiotensin-II receptor antagonist
Used for High blood pressure
To protect the kidneys in people with diabetes and high blood pressure
Also called Aprovel®
CoAprovel® (contains irbesartan with hydrochlorothiazide)
Available as Tablets

Irbesartan is an angiotensin receptor blocker (also called an angiotensin-II receptor antagonist or an AIIRA). It is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). People with high blood pressure often do not feel unwell but, if left untreated, high blood pressure can harm the heart and damage blood vessels.

Irbesartan works by blocking the effect of a chemical called angiotensin II which is made in your bloodstream. Angiotensin II causes your blood vessels to narrow, so by blocking this effect, irbesartan allows your blood vessels to relax and widen. As this happens, the pressure of blood within your blood vessels is reduced.

Irbesartan also protects the function of the kidney in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

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 irbesartan it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have kidney problems such as a blockage of the artery which supplies blood to your kidney.
  • If you have been told you have cardiomyopathy (cardiac muscle disease), or aortic stenosis (narrowing of the main blood vessel from your heart), or any other heart problem.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of irbesartan you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take irbesartan exactly as your doctor has told you to. It is taken once each day. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack.
  • Take irbesartan at a time of day you find easy to remember, and try to take your doses at the same time on each day. This will help you to avoid missing any doses. You can take irbesartan 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 your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your progress can be monitored. Your doctor will want you to have some blood tests from time to time to check on your kidneys and how much potassium is in your blood.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with irbesartan. This is because some anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) may interfere with the way these tablets work, and also increase the risk of side-effects.
  • It is very important that you follow any dietary and lifestyle advice that you may have been given by your doctor, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking irbesartan and alcohol. Alcohol will increase feelings of light-headedness and may not be recommended for you.
  • Do not use salt substitutes which contain potassium while you are on irbesartan. This is because they increase the amount of potassium in your blood and this can cause problems.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking irbesartan. This is because irbesartan taken with an anaesthetic may make your blood pressure drop too low.
  • Treatment with irbesartan is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets unless you are advised otherwise.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common irbesartan side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling light-headed or dizzy, especially when standing up Getting up more slowly should help. If you begin to feel dizzy, lie down so that you do not faint, then sit for a few moments before standing. If this continues, speak with your doctor
Feeling or being sick Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods
Feeling weary, muscle and joint pain Speak with your doctor if this becomes troublesome

Important: if you get any swelling of your mouth or face, speak with your doctor or go to your local accident and emergency department straightaway. These are signs of an allergic reaction.

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 someone has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. 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.
  • Never 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

  • British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
  • Manufacturer's PIL, AprovelĀ® Film-Coated Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, AprovelĀ® Film-Coated Tablets, Sanofi-Aventis Bristol-Myers Squibb SNC, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2011.

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:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Last Checked:
20/02/2012
Document ID:
3371 (v23)
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