How Do ARBs Work?

Reviewed on 4/27/2021

What Are ARBs and How Do They Work?

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) or angiotensin II receptor antagonists work by reducing the action of angiotensin II (a substance that narrows your blood vessels and contributes to salt and water retention in the body). ARBs are used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. They may also be prescribed following a heart attack.

Blood vessels in the body are either tightened or widened to provide less blood or more blood to different parts of the body by signals (angiotensin II being one of the important signals) received by a type of protein called angiotensin receptors. These receptors are found in the heart, blood vessels, and kidney. ARBs block certain receptors of angiotensin II, thus blood vessels relax and widen (dilate). This action helps to lower blood pressure and prevent damage to the heart and kidneys.

ARBs also act directly on the hormones that regulate sodium and water balance. ARBs increase the release of water and salt (sodium) into the urine, which in turn lowers the blood pressure.

How Are ARBs Used?

ARBs may be used for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Kidney disease caused by diabetes

ARBs have a similar effect to another group of medicines called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ARBs are usually used when ACE inhibitors are not suitable to use.

What Are Side Effects of ARBs?

Common side effects of ARBs include:

Other rare but severe side effects include:

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.


Salt and sodium are the same. See Answer

General Information

The most recent guidelines for the management of hypertension include ARBs. ARBs have consistently shown the benefit of lowering blood pressure and have demonstrated favorable tolerability. ARBs play a role in various mechanisms, including renal protection and uric acid reduction.

Generally, ACE inhibitors should remain the initial treatment of choice for hypertension. ARBs are used for patients who are unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors.

Drug Names for ARBs

Drug names for ARBs include:

Medscape. ARBs.

WebMD. High Blood Pressure and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs).

NCBI. Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARB).

NCBI. Angiotensin II receptor blockers.

Medscape. Which medications in the drug class ARBs are used in the treatment of Hypertension?

FDA. Recalls of Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) including Valsartan, Losartan and Irbesartan

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