Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart failure. Find out more about this class of medication.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) help relax your blood vessels, which lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood.

Angiotensin is a chemical in your body that affects your cardiovascular system in various ways, including narrowing your blood vessels. This narrowing can increase your blood pressure and force your heart to work harder.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers block the action of angiotensin II, allowing blood vessels to widen (dilate).

Several ARBs are available. Which one is best for you depends on your health and the condition being treated.

Examples of angiotensin II receptor blockers include:

  • Azilsartan (Edarbi)
  • Candesartan (Atacand)
  • Eprosartan
  • Irbesartan (Avapro)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Olmesartan (Benicar)
  • Telmisartan (Micardis)
  • Valsartan (Diovan)

Doctors prescribe these drugs to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in various conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure in diabetes
  • Chronic kidney diseases

Few people have side effects when taking angiotensin II receptor blockers. Possible side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Elevated blood potassium level (hyperkalemia)
  • Localized swelling of tissues (angioedema)

There have been some reports of intestinal problems in those taking olmesartan. Talk to your doctor if you develop severe diarrhea or lose a lot of weight while taking olmesartan.

Because angiotensin II receptor blockers can injure a developing fetus, don't take them if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

June 14, 2016