What they do

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) block the actions of angiotensin II, a hormone naturally produced by your kidneys. By blocking the effect of angiotensin II, ARBs relax your blood vessels, which lowers your blood pressure. This means your heart doesn't have to work so hard to squeeze your blood around your body.
body.

ARBs have almost identical actions to ACE inhibitors. Because they are usually more expensive than ACE inhibitors, they are often reserved for patients who do not tolerate ACE inhibitors.

Side effects

Side effects are extremely rare. Unlike ACE inhibitors, ARBs do not cause dry cough. But otherwise the side effects are the same for ARBs and ACE inhibitors. These include dizziness, which is common with any drug that lowers blood pressure. But your heart can function better at these lower pressures. Your blood pressure will be monitored regularly.

Like ACE inhibitors, ARBs can affect kidney function and increase potassium levels. Your doctor will monitor these levels regularly.

Top tips

Your doctor may advise you to take the first dose of your ARB before going to bed to try and prevent any dizziness. Dizziness is common with any drug that lowers blood pressure, but your heart can function better at these lower pressures.

If you do feel dizzy in the morning, try moving your feet back and forth about ten times before you stand up. Or, you may find it helpful to dangle your legs over the side of the bed before sitting up, and then sit at the side of the bed for a minute before standing. You should avoid standing up quickly, either from sitting or bending down, as this can make you feel dizzy. Take your time and allow your body to adjust.

Also known as:

  • Candesartan
    (Amias®, Atacand®)
  • Eprosartan
    (Teveten®)
  • Irbesartan
    (Avapro®, Aprovel®, Avalide®)
  • Losartan
    (Cozaar®)
  • Olmesartan
    (Olmetec®, Benicar®)
  • Telmisartan
    (Micardis®)
  • Valsartan
    (Diovan®)
  • Combination products
    (Co Aprovel®, Cozaar-Comp®, Olmetec Plus®, Micardis Plus®, Co-Diovan®)

Animation

 
How ACE inhibitors work in heart failure Animation explaining how angiotensin receptor inhibitors work in heart failure

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