Angiotensin II receptor antagonists (angiotensin 2 receptor blockers or ARBs) are a first-line treatment for high blood pressure and are also added in to other classes of blood pressure treatment if the single drug alone does not control blood pressure.
Angiotensin II receptor antagonists include drugs such as azilsartan, candesartan, eprosartan, irbesartan, losartan, olmesartan, telmisartan and valsartan.
How angiotensin II receptor antagonists work
Angiotensin II receptor antagonists have a similar action to the ACE inhibitors in lowering a high blood pressure. Instead of inhibiting angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), however, they block the effects of angiotensin II itself, to produce similar effects.
Angiotensin II receptor antagonists dilate blood vessels, stimulate kidney function and may also have a direct action on the brain to reduce drinking and increase urine output.
On average, treatment with an Angiotensin II receptor antagonist alone lowers systolic blood pressure (your upper reading) by an impressive 14.3mmHg.
Angiotensin II receptor antagonists are useful drugs for people with high blood pressure who develop a persistent dry cough as a troublesome side effect when taking an ACE inhibitor, as these particular drugs are not associated with this problem. They are often referred to as ‘clean’ drugs as they appear to have a lower side effect profile than other drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
Patient information leaflets
To find out more about angiotensin II receptor antagonists including their possible side effects, click on the following links. These will take you to a typical Patient Information Leaflet that is found inside a UK pack of these medicines. Always read the patient information leaflet supplied with your own medicine as different preparations vary.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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