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Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

(check with manufacturer for specific information)

Commonly prescribed brands:









How they are given:

  • Oral (tablet or capsule)

What they are used for:

You should not be treated with them if:

  • You have a history of swelling beneath the skin ( angioedema) related to previous treatment with ACE inhibitor
  • You have swelling beneath the skin of hereditary or unknown origin
  • You cannot produce urine

Possible side effects:

  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Dizziness, headache, cough, fatigue


  • Pregnant women should not take angiotensin II receptor blockers because they can harm the fetus. Women who are nursing should not use these medications; if the treatment is essential, then nursing should be discontinued.

How do angiotensin II receptor blockers work?
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) widen blood vessels. They work by blocking the effects of angiotensin II, a chemical that narrows blood vessels. Blood vessels have special receptors for angiotensin II, and when angiotensin II hits them, it causes the blood vessels to narrow. Instead of decreasing the production of angiotensin II (as ACE inhibitors do), ARBs block the blood vessel receptors for this chemical.

Who should take angiotensin II receptor blockers?
ARBs are often used to treat high blood pressure or heart failure and can slow the progression of kidney disease in patients with diabetes. ARBs are a relatively new medicine and it is not yet known if they are as effective as ACE inhibitors. However, they do not cause the dry cough common with ACE inhibitors, so they are often used in patients who cannot tolerate this side effect.

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