Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) (cont.)
Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.
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In this Article
For what conditions are ARBs used?
ARBs are used for controlling high blood pressure, treating heart failure, and preventing kidney failure in people with diabetes or high blood pressure. They may also prevent diabetes and reduce the risk of stroke in patients with high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. ARBs may also prevent the recurrence of atrial fibrillation. Since these medications have effects that are similar to those of ACE inhibitors, they often are used when ACE inhibitors are not tolerated by patients (for example, due to excessive coughing).
Are there any differences among the different types of ARBs?
ARBs are similar in actions and side effects. They differ in how they are eliminated from the body and the extent to which they are distributed throughout the body. Some ARBs need to be converted to an active form in the body before they can lower blood pressure. In addition, some ARBs are better at lowering blood pressure. In some studies, irbesartan (Avapro) and candesartan (Atacand) reduced blood pressure better than losartan (Cozaar).
What are the side effects of ARBs?
ARBs are well tolerated by most individuals. The most common side effects are cough, elevated potassium levels in the blood (hyperkalemia), low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, diarrhea, abnormal taste sensation (metallic or salty taste), and rash. Compared to ACE inhibitors, cough occurs less often with ARBs. The most serious, but rare, side effects are kidney failure, liver failure, allergic reactions, a decrease in white blood cells, and swelling of tissues (angioedema). ARBs usually are not prescribed for pregnant patients because they may cause birth defects. Individuals who have narrowing of both kidney arteries or have had a severe reaction to ARBs should avoid them. Like other antihypertensives, ARBs have been associated with sexual dysfunction.
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