Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)


Drug class: angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs)

Generic (Brand) names: candesartan (Atacand), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan)

In heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.

Angiotensin-receptor blockers, or ARBs, help your heart to pump more efficiently and help prevent fluid from backing up in your heart and lungs.

ARBs prevent blood vessels from narrowing and they help your body eliminate excess sodium and water.

These actions lower blood pressure, reducing strain on your heart.

ARBs improve heart failure symptoms, reduce your risk of being hospitalized, and can help you live longer.

Side effects may include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Stomach problems
  • Fatigue
  • Angioedema, a rapid swelling in the face, neck, or tongue. This can be serious. Tell your provider immediately if it occurs.

Your provider will have told you what dose of this medication to take, and how many times per day to take it. The label on your medication bottle should also indicate how many pills to take, and how often.

Over time, your provider may adjust your dose.

Make sure the dose you need to take matches the strength of the tablets in your bottle. If the strength of your tablet does not match the dose you have been prescribed, you may need to split the pill and have only part of it, or take more than one pill. Always remember to consult your provider if you are unclear about what your most recent dose of ARB is.

ARBs can be taken on an empty or full stomach.

Let your provider know if you experience side effects from this medication. He or she may be able to switch you to a different drug class, switch you to a different drug within this class, or adjust your dose.

This medication causes your body to retain potassium. High levels of potassium in the blood can be dangerous. Notify your provider immediately if you experience any new or worsening weakness, fatigue, or palpitations.

Your provider may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home to make sure it is not too low.

You may also need blood tests to check your potassium levels and kidney function.

You may not feel different in the short term if you do not take this medication as directed. Over time, however, you will feel worse and be at greater risk for hospitalization. Your heart failure will also continue to progress.