The following is a brief description of Iloprost and how it is used.
Many patients with scleroderma benefit from being treated with the drug iloprost. Iloprost has some of the same properties as a hormone found throughout the body’s tissues and fluids called prostacyclin and has three main effects on your body:
- It opens up the blood vessels which helps them to carry more blood to all the areas of the body.
- It reduces clumping of the red cells in the blood, thus reducing clotting.
- It reduces the number of destructive cells in damaged blood vessels.
All these actions combine to improve the circulation of the blood. This can mean that symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon may be reduced and that ulcers on fingers or toes may heal more quickly.
Iloprost is given as an intravenous infusion in hospital. The infusion is usually given for approximately six hours a day for five consecutive days. The rate at which it is given depends on your weight. In some cases it may be decided to give you a continuous infusion for up to ten days.
In general iloprost is a well-tolerated drug. The main side effects are facial flushing and headaches. There is also the potential for lowering of blood pressure and this will be checked regularly by nurses during the treatment. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are less common side effects. Paracetamol and an anti-sickness drug can be given if necessary, however all side effects tend to disappear very quickly once the iloprost infusion has been stopped or reduced.
This is general information about iloprost only and you should always ask your doctor if you do not understand why you are being given a particular drug or have further questions about your individual treatment.
To download our Iloprost booklet click here.