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Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs) Drug Information

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What are angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and how do they work?

The class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), as the class name suggests, are drugs that block the action of angiotensin. Specifically, ARBs prevent angiotensin II from binding to the angiotensin II receptor on blood vessels and other tissues.

Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical that causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract, thereby narrowing the blood vessels. Narrowing of blood vessels increases the pressure within the blood vessels and may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). Reducing the binding and activity of angiotensin II leads to widening (dilation) of blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure against which the heart must pump, the amount of work that the heart must do is reduced. ACE inhibitors also reduce blood pressure in the kidneys, slowing the progression of kidney disease due to high blood pressure or diabetes.

For what conditions are ARBs used?

ARBs are used alone or in combination with other drugs for controlling high blood pressure. They also are used for treating congestive heart failure, preventing diabetes or high blood pressure-related kidney failure, and reducing the risk of stroke in patients with hypertension and an enlarged heart. ARBs also may prevent the recurrence of atrial fibrillation. Since ARBs have effects that are similar to those of ACE inhibitors, they are often used when ACE inhibitors are not tolerated by patients because of side effects.




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