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Heart Failure Health Center

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Heart Failure and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (also called ARBs) block the effects of a substance called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to high blood pressure. ARBs help dilate blood vessels to lower blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump blood.

ARBs are often prescribed for patients who cannot tolerate an ACE inhibitor medication.

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Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body. This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs. With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water. In...

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There are several different ARBs, including:

Atacand and Diovan are approved for the treatment of patients with heart failure.

How Do I Take ARBs?

Most ARBs can be taken on an empty or full stomach. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for specific instructions. Follow the label directions on how often to take this medication. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take the medication will depend on the type of ARB prescribed, as well as your condition.

While taking this drug, have your blood pressure and kidney function tested regularly, as advised by your doctor or nurse.

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so that your response to an ARB can be monitored.

Note: It may take many weeks for you to feel the full effects of the medication.

What Are the Side Effects of ARBs?

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness upon rising: This side effect may be strongest after the first dose, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Get up more slowly. Contact your doctor if these symptoms persist or are severe.
  • Diarrhea, muscle cramps or weakness, back or leg pain, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), sinusitis, or upper respiratory infection: Contact your doctor if these symptoms are persistent or severe.
  • Irregular heartbeat, or fast or slow heartbeat: Contact your doctor if these symptoms are persistent or severe.
  • Confusion: Contact your doctor right away.

If you become sick with severe vomiting or diarrhea, you may become dehydrated, which can lead to low blood pressure. Contact your doctor. Also contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.

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