Atrovent HFA (ipratropium bromide HFA)

Atrovent HFA (ipratropium bromide HFA) Inhalation Aerosol is an oral inhalation medicine used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Atrovent is part of a class of drugs for COPD called anticholinergic bronchodilators. There are long-acting and short-acting anticholinergics bronchodilators; Atrovent HFA is the short-acting type. Atrovent HFA is usually used to treat COPD patients who have breathing symptoms sometimes, but not all of the time.

Atrovent HFA is a maintenance therapy for COPD and is not used for treating COPD flare-ups that have already started. Rescue inhalers should be used for symptoms that are very severe and need relief very quickly.

What are the ingredients in Atrovent HFA?

The active ingredient in ATROVENT HFA is ipratropium bromide (as the monohydrate).

How does Atrovent HFA work?

As an anticholinergic drug, Atrovent HFA helps to treat COPD symptoms by helping the muscles that surround the airways to stay relaxed. COPD can cause irritation in the lungs that makes those muscles tighten up, which can make COPD breathing symptoms worse.

Ipratropium bromide is the active ingredient in Atrovent HFA. It is delivered in a canister that is placed into a metered-dose inhaler. The usual dosage for COPD patients is 2 inhalations per dose, four times a day.

For most COPD patients, the medicine in Atrovent HFA starts improving lung function within about 15 minutes. Atrovent HFA takes about three times longer than albuterol to start working. For this reason, it is not recommended for use as a rescue inhaler.

What are the possible side effects of Atrovent HFA?

In the 12-week placebo-controlled clinical trials of Atrovent HFA, the most common adverse reactions were bronchitis, COPD exacerbation, dyspnea (difficulty or labored breathing), and headache. This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Atrovent HFA. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist for further information. If you experience extreme breathlessness right after taking Atrovent HFA, stop taking it and seek medical help immediately. A small number of people have difficulty urinating while taking Atrovent HFA, especially men with enlarged prostates.

Things to know about Atrovent HFA

Anticholinergics like Atrovent HFA may interact additively with concomitantly used anticholinergic medications. It’s important to avoid administration of Atrovent HFA with other anticholinergic-containing drugs.

If Atrovent HFA is accidentally sprayed in the eyes, it can cause a serious eye condition called narrow-angle glaucoma. For people who already have narrow-angle glaucoma, it can cause this condition to get worse. Spraying Atrovent HFA in the eyes can also cause symptoms such as, eye pain and discomfort, blurry vision and dilated pupils.

It’s important to consult your health care provider immediately if any of the medicine gets into your eyes.

Dosing information

The typical starting dose of Atrovent HFA is two inhalations four times per day. Healthcare providers may advise some patients that they can take more inhalations during the day if needed to relieve symptoms. However, you should never take more than 12 inhalations in a 24-hour period. Atrovent HFA does not require shaking prior to administration. Before using Atrovent HFA for the first time, the inhaler should be primed (or actuated) by releasing 2 test sprays into the air, away from the face. In cases where the inhaler has not been used for more than 3 days, prime the inhaler again by releasing 2 test sprays into the air, away from the face.
For more information, read the full prescribing information of Atrovent HFA.

Written by: Kristine Zerkowski | Last reviewed: April 2018.
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