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Avapro (irbesartan) is an angiotensin II receptor antagonist used to treat hypertension. It is also used to inhibit progression of nephropathy in type 2 diabetics who also have hypertension.

As an angiotensin II receptor antagonist the medication prevents the binding of angiotensin II by blocking its receptors. It is thought that, while it does a number of things, the most important action is promoting vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels. Wider blood vessels means lower blood pressure, less work for the heart, and improved oxygen delivery to the heart.

This product is also sold as Aproval and Karvea, depending on location. It's also available in combination with other products, such as Avalide, which contains irbesartan and hydrochlorothiazide, a thiazide diuretic.

Managing Blood Pressure with Avapro

Avapro's most widespread use is in treating high blood pressure. The medication can be used on its own or in combination with other medications, either in a combined tablet or individually.

The medication is usually taken just once per day, with or without food according to personal preference:

  • Most patients are started on 150 mg of Avapro, taken once per day.
  • After a couple weeks of treatment dosage may be increased to 300 mg per day.
  • Patients who are also being treated with diuretics or on dialysis are usually started on 75 mg per day.

It takes a couple of weeks of regular use to see a significant drop in blood pressure, hence the wait to adjust dosage. Lifestyle modifications are also usually recommended to control blood pressure more naturally, such as quitting smoking or getting more exercise. If changes are not made, or prove insufficient to control blood pressure, patients will probably take Avapro or similar medications for the remainder of life.

High blood pressure may not produce any symptoms until serious damage has been done. Be sure to take Avapro daily even if feeling fine.

Preventing Kidney Damage

Patients also use Avapro to halt progression of diabetic nephropathy in type 2 diabetes. The medication will have little effect on type 1 diabetics.

Diabetic nephropathy refers to the kidney damage experienced by about 20 to 30 percent of type 2 diabetics. Individuals of Hispanic, black, or Native American lineage are at increased risk of serious kidney damage compared to whites and Asians, though it is still a risk. Most type 2 diabetics are screened for kidney function at the time of diagnosis.

Avapro can slow, stop, or prevent diabetic nephropathy, depending on patient response and the severity of the condition. Treatment is typically:

  • Take 300 mg Avapro once per day.
  • Dosage may be lower in patients who are also being treated with diuretics or on dialysis.

With respect to kidney function, results from Avapro may take longer to see, since intent is often to stop or prevent progression. Variation between individuals taking higher doses of Avapro is also significant. It may be that Avapro works fine, or doctors may decide to try other medications after a few months of Avapro.

Heart Failure

There are some rumors out there that Avapro is useful in helping to treat heart failure. Unfortunately these are just rumors; a rather large study involving over 4000 individuals for over 4 years found no significant benefit to using Avapro over placebo.

Warnings & Side Effects

Avapro is designed to lower blood pressure, so patients may experience side effects related to a drop in blood pressure. This can cause patients to feel lightheaded and dizzy, particularly when rising from a sitting or laying position. It can also happen if dehydrated. These symptoms should pass after a few weeks as the body adjusts to its new, lower blood pressure.

The prescribing doctor should be made aware if there is a history of kidney or liver damage, or heart disease.

Avapro can interact with other medications. Of most concern are:

  • Aliskiren
  • Lithium
  • Diuretics
  • NSAIDs

Avapro should not be taken while pregnant. Speak with a doctor before use if breastfeeding.


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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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