Why is it prescribed?
Epoprostenol sodium is indicated for the long-term i.v. treatment of primary pulmonary hypertension. It can also be used to treat secondary pulmonary hypertension due to scleroderma spectrum of diseases in NYHA functional Class III and Class IV patients who did not respond adequately to conventional therapy
Along with its therapeutic benefit, epoprostenol sodium can cause the following side effects:
- jaw pain
- nausea and vomiting
- flushing and redness of the face
- stomach pain
- pain at the injection site
Epoprostenol sodium may cause serious side effects. If you experience any of the following side effects go to the hospital immediately:
- unusually slow or fast heartbeats, or feeling dizzy or faint, which can be signs of low blood pressure
- chills, with or without shaking, and fever which may be signs of a blood infection
- chest pain
Contact your physician if you experience the following side effects:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than usual or which cannot be stopped, bruising more easily than normal
Epoprostenol is a vasodilator. Vasodilators open up (dilate) the blood vessels in your body by relaxing the muscle walls of the blood vessels. This helps to lower blood pressure and allow blood to flow more easily.
Treatment with epoprostenol sodium may be continuous and for long periods. Epoprostenol sodium is infused continuously through a permanent indwelling central catheter via a small, portable infusion pump. The patient and their caregivers must commit to learning how to care for the central venous catheter, and how to properly prepare and administer epoprostenol sodium via the pump.
Discontinuing epoprostenol sodium abruptly can result in a rebound pulmonary hypertensive effect that may cause shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness and even death.
Do not use if you:
- are allergic to epoprostenol, or any ingredients of the medication
- are allergic to any medications with a similar chemical structure to epoprostenol
- have fluid in the lungs when starting the medication
- have congestive heart failure
Patients being treated with epoprostenol sodium should avoid exposing themselves to prolonged excessive heat. The use of saunas, or hot tubs and sunbathing may result in the patient's blood pressure dropping too low.
Epoprostenol use has been associated with an increased incidence of bradycardia (slow heart rate) in patients with pulmonary hypertension and with episodes of severe hypotension (low blood pressure), including fatalities.
Patients using epoprostenol sodium may be at an increased risk of bleeding.
Pregnancy: Very little information since patients with pulmonary hypertension are advised to avoid pregnancy. Benefit to the mother likely outweighs risk to the baby.
Breastfeeding: No information but unlikely to be harmful for the infant.