Exforge is a tablet treatment used to alleviate symptoms of high blood pressure, and it is made by Novartis. It contains two active ingredients, which both work by easing tension in blood vessels, to allow blood to flow more freely, and reduce strain on the heart and arterial pathways. The tablet is taken once a day, and is available in three doses.
- Reduces hypertension
- One a day pill
- Used when single-agent treatments haven’t worked
High blood pressure is a condition which is characterised by the heart having to pump with more force than is normal to get blood moving around the body. A healthcare professional will take your blood pressure using a mercury-propelled gauge. The device, which is connected to the upper arm with a fabric, velcro strap, provides two readings. Systolic pressure is the first number, and is a measure of how much pressure your heart uses to pump blood out. Diastolic pressure is the second, and this is an indication of how much resistance your arteries offer in response. The readings are then taken in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and noted as systolic ‘over’ diastolic. The condition is said to be present if a patient provides two consecutive readings which are 140 over 90 or higher.
It is a common condition and an easy one to miss. The NHS estimates that almost a third of people in the UK have it, but that the actual number could be higher when potentially undiagnosed cases are taken into account. This is due in large part to the nonspecific nature of the symptoms associated with it, such as nosebleeds, headache, or sight problems.
Left untreated, the condition can pose long-term consequences. These include an increased chance of heart attack or stroke, embolism, or kidney disease. Several factors can cause the condition. The risk of developing hypertension increases as you get older. Persons of African or Caribbean origin, for reasons which aren’t completely understood, are also more likely to experience the condition. But, as with most vascular conditions, lifestyle plays a significant role.
Not getting enough exercise, eating a high salt diet, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol can all contribute to a rise in blood pressure. Which is why, when treating the condition, one of the first things a doctor will address is the patient’s dietary and exercise habits. In milder cases, this may be enough to get blood pressure under control. But in such cases where the patient does not respond to these measures, or delivers a persistently high pressure reading, medication may be recommended.
There are two ingredients in Exforge, which may be issued when single-agent drugs haven’t succeeded. Amlodipine is a calcium-channel blocker. It works by restricting the activity of calcium in blood vessel muscle walls, and helping them to relax. Valsartan works in a similar way. This agent is an angiotensin-II receptor antagonist, which means that it prevents the action of a hormone which can cause arteries to narrow, and make it harder for blood to move around. Combined, these ingredients help to bring blood pressure levels down.
This treatment is not available to buy from our UK pharmacy. To renew your prescription for this medication, you should contact your GP surgery.
To get the best possible results from your treatment, you should make sure you adhere to the directions issued by your prescriber, and follow the guidelines provided in the patient information leaflet. Doing so will also help you to reduce the likelihood of side effects.
- Administer this treatment as directed by your prescriber.
- In most cases, the starting dose will be the lowest. Your prescriber may choose to increase or decrease this according to your response to this or previous drugs.
- One tablet a day is swallowed whole with water.
- This tablet can be taken at any time or day, with or without food.
- It is however recommended that you take it at the same time each day, to help you remember your dose.
- You should continue to follow the lifestyle instructions provided by your doctor when undertaking treatment.
- Do not take this tablet at the same time as drinking grapefruit juice, as this may interfere with the way the medication works.
- Never exceed the dose prescribed.
- If you forget to take it, do not double up on your next dose. You can take the tablet when you remember provided it is not time for your next administration. If it is, skip the one you have missed and take your next dose at the scheduled time.
The above is provided only as a guide. For more detailed instructions, refer to the leaflet which is supplied with the product.
Download Exforge patient information leaflet
It is vital to be aware of the side effects associated with this treatment. Let your doctor know if you experience any signs of: an allergic reaction, such as a rash, itching, swelling of the face, lips or tongue, or difficulty breathing; or low blood pressure.
Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Headache, swelling of arms, hands, legs, flu-like symptoms, ankles or feet, tiredness, or flushing.
Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Dizziness, feeling or being sick, abdominal pain, dry mouth, tingling or numbness of the hands or feet, vertigo, palpitations, cough, diarrhoea, constipation, skin rash, swollen joints, dizziness when standing up, or back pain.
Rare (1 in 1,000 people or less):
Tinnitus, anxiety, fainting, increased urinary frequency, erectile difficulties, low blood pressure, sweating, or itching.
The above is only a selected summary of the side effects associated with this product. For a more detailed list, please consult the leaflet supplied with the medicine.
Taking it with other medicines
Inform your prescriber during consultation if you are using any other treatments, including the following: ACE inhibitors or aliskiren; diuretics; lithium; potassium-sparing diuretics or supplements; NSAIDs; COX-2 inhibitors; anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, fosphenytoin, or primidone; St. John’s wort; nitroglycerin and other nitrates; vasodilators; antivirals for HIV/AIDS including ritonavir, indinavir, nelfinavir; antifungals such as ketoconazole or itraconazole; dantrolene; rifampicin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, talithromycin or other antibiotics; verapamil or diltiazem; simvastatin; or ciclosporin.
Conditions to look out for
Those who have a history of the following should not use this item: an intolerance to amlodipine or to any other calcium channel blockers, or valsartan; severe liver problems or bile problems; low blood pressure; narrowing of the aortic valve; cardiogenic shock; heart failure after a heart attack; or diabetes or impaired kidney function being treated with aliskiren.
It may also not be suitable for those who have: been sick; liver or kidney problems; had a kidney transplant; primary hyperaldosteronism; had heart problems; or been taking ACE inhibitors.
Disclose your medical history to your prescriber prior to use.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Exforge is not recommended for use during the first three months of pregnancy, and must not be used by anyone more than three months pregnant. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, speak to your GP about alternative treatment.
This treatment is also not recommended for use during breastfeeding. Again, speak to your doctor about alternative treatments if this applies to you.
Driving and machinery
The medicine can cause dizziness. If you are not certain how this medication will affect you, do not drive or operate machinery.
Food, drink or alcohol
Do not drink grapefruit juice when using this medication, as doing so can increase the risk of side effects.
Can I still drink alcohol?
It is not recommended, as it may cause the risk of side effects to increase.
Will I still be able to drive?
Yes, provided you experience no side effects. You should wait to see how this medication affects you before attempting to drive. If you notice anything unusual, do not drive and contact your nearest doctor or hospital.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
It is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In such cases, your doctor may suggest an alternative form of treatment.
How should I store it?
In a safe place below 30°C.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
This medication contains: amlodipine, valsartan, cellulose microcrystalline, crospovidone type A, silica, colloidal anhydrous, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, macrogol 4000, talc, titanium dioxide (E171), and iron oxide yellow (E172).
Do not use it if you are allergic to any of the above substances.
Is it available over-the-counter?
Patients will require a prescription in order to be able to buy Exforge. This can only be issued by a practising doctor, following a consultation to make sure the medicine is suitable.
Is it right for me?
Your GP will determine the most suitable course of treatment during a face-to-face consultation, and initiate a prescription.
Please note that Exforge is not available to buy from our pharmacy.
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