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Irbesartan is a medication used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Around 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, but often without any noticeable symptoms. If you leave this untreated, it can increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
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Irbesartan is a common medication used to treat high blood pressure. It is an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). The active ingredient is irbesartan and it is an unbranded medication. It can lower your blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pump around your body. Irbesartan should be taken daily, at the same time every day. The usual dose is 150mg, once a day.
You must take irbesartan at the same time each day. The tablet should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. It is best to take irbesartan in the morning, so you get the best effect from the treatment throughout the day.
Irbesartan comes in 3 doses and the recommended dose is 150mg daily. You may be started on 75mg if you have never taken this treatment before, are having dialysis, or are over 75 years old. Your doctor will increase your dose as needed, with the maximum dose being 300mg daily. Do not stop taking irbesartan, unless your doctor has told you to.
You can drink alcohol with irbesartan but it is not recommended if you are new to the treatment, or if your dose increases. Alcohol can further lower your blood pressure, causing you to feel lightheaded or dizzy. If irbesartan makes you dizzy, you should avoid alcohol whilst taking it.
Angiotensin II is a natural substance in the body. It causes your blood vessels to get tighter, making your blood pressure increase. Irbesartan is an ARB, which can stop angiotensin II from making your blood vessels tighter, causing your blood vessels to relax. This makes it easier for your blood to pump around your body and lowers your blood pressure.
You can feel the effects of irbesartan within 3 to 6 hours of taking it, but it can take up to 6 weeks to get the best effect. If you did not have any symptoms before taking irbesartan, you may not feel different. This does not mean irbesartan is not working. You should continue taking irbesartan for as long as needed, which may be for the rest of your life.
Irbesartan has been proven to be effective in reducing blood pressure, for those with mild to moderate high blood pressure. For those with severe high blood pressure, more than one treatment may be needed.
Irbesartan has some side effects but not everybody will get them. Many side effects will go away on their own, once your body is used to the medication. If your side effects last longer than a few weeks or bother you too much, speak to your doctor.
There are some serious side effects of irbesartan. If you get any of these, you should go to A&E or call 999 straight away.
Serious side effects include:
- signs of liver problem, such as yellowing of your skin (jaundice)
- signs of a serious allergic reaction, such as swelling in your face and difficulty breathing
- vasculitis (a rash with purple spots)
- signs of a kidney problem, such as peeing more often and dark coloured pee
Common side effects include:
- nausea and vomiting (feeling or being sick)
- a change in blood levels, which would be found on a blood test
Uncommon side effects include:
- increased heart rate
- chest pain
- erectile dysfunction
- indigestion or heartburn
- flushing of your skin
There are some other side effects that irbesartan may cause, but the frequency is not yet known. These can be found in the tablet packet, on the patient information leaflet. They can also be found online.
Irbesartan is suitable for adults with high blood pressure.
It may not be suitable for you if you:
- have problems with your kidneys and diabetes
- have an intolerance to some sugars, as irbesartan contains lactose
- are allergic to irbesartan, or any other ingredients in the tablets
- are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding
- are Afro-Caribbean, as studies have found irbesartan is not as effective
- have heart, kidney, or liver problems
- have primary aldosteronism (a condition that increases the amount of aldosterone in your body)
- are on a low salt diet
- have had recent diarrhoea or vomiting
Irbesartan is safe to take with many medications but it may interact with some.
Speak to your doctor if you take any medication, especially:
- other blood pressure medication
- spironolactone, for heart failure
- lithium, for mental health problems
- diuretics (water tablets)
- heparin, a blood thinner
- medication containing potassium
- aspirin, if you take more than 3g daily
- painkillers such as naproxen and ibuprofen
You should not eat salt substitutes like Lo-Salt whilst taking irbesartan. This is because they are both high in potassium and, if taken together, could make your potassium levels too high.
If irbesartan is not the right treatment for you, there are alternative treatments available through our online service.
- beta-blockers, such as bisoprolol
- alpha-blockers, such as doxazosin
- diuretics (water tablets), such as bendroflumethiazide
- other ARBs, such as losartan
- ACE inhibitors, such as lisinopril, ramipril, or enalapril
Speak to one of our doctors about alternative treatments for high blood pressure.
No, you must continue taking irbesartan every day. It is safe to take irbesartan for the rest of your life. If you stop taking it, your blood pressure will increase. Never stop taking irbesartan without speaking to your doctor.
If you forget a dose, take the next dose when it is due. Never take a double dose to make up for this, as it could increase the risk of side effects.
If you take more irbesartan than you have been prescribed, it could lower your blood pressure too much. This may cause side effects and change your heart rate. Speak to your doctor or visit A&E. Take your irbesartan tablet packet with you.
Yes, irbesartan is also used to protect kidneys in patients who have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and impaired kidney function. We only prescribe irbesartan for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (hypertension) (2019) NHS (accessed 05 December 2021)
Irbesartan (2018) NHS (accessed 05 December 2021)
Irbesartan 150mg tablets (2019) EMC (accessed 05 December 2021)
Long-term use and tolerability of irbesartan for control of hypertension (2011) PubMed (accessed 05 December 2021)