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Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) help relax your veins and arteries to lower your blood pressure, making it easier for your heart to pump. Read about the different types of ARBs, how they work, and their side effects.

Types of ARBs

  • azilsartan
  • candesartan, also called Atacand, Candestar
  • losartan, also called Cozaar, Losartan Actavis
  • valsartan, also called Diovan

How do ARBs work?

ARBs help relax your veins and arteries to lower blood pressure, making it easier for your heart to pump. They also improve symptoms in people who have heart failure and chronic kidney diseases. 

What are the side effects?

Common side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting (being sick)
  • higher than normal potassium levels in the blood.

Ring 111 if you have any of the following:

  • severe chest pain
  • severe headache
  • acute shortness of breath
  • swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, as this could be an allergic reaction.

Talk to your doctor if your side effects are worrying you. Don't stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. It may take a while for the medication to work, but the benefits usually outweigh the side effects.

What checks do I need?

You will need to get regular blood tests to check your potassium levels and kidney function.

What happens if I miss a dose?

It’s important to take your ARBs daily, as prescribed, and not to skip a dose.

If you forget to take dose, take it immediately, then continue as normal the following day. However, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue as normal.

Do NOT take a double dose.

What else do I need to know when taking ARBs?

Tell your health professionals if you're taking any:

  • supplements
  • natural medicines
  • vitamins
  • alternative therapies. 

These can sometimes make your heart medications less effective. 

Talk to your pharmacist before taking NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen or voltaren, because these can be harmful when taking in combination with ARBs.

Talk to your doctor about pregnancy if you're on ARBs, and this applies to you. ARBs may affect your unborn baby. You’ll also need to talk to your doctor about breastfeeding.

Related treatments and conditions

Blood pressure

Heart failure

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