Heart Failure and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on November 06, 2022
2 min read

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

ARBs are often prescribed for those who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitor medication.

There are several different ARBs, including:

Candesartan and Valsartan are approved to treat heart failure.

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

Have your blood pressure and kidneys tested regularly while you take these.

Keep all appointments with your medical team so they can monitor your response to the medicine.

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

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness upon standing: These may be strongest after the first dose, especially if you have been taking a diuretic (water pill). Get up more slowly. Call your doctor if these symptoms don't go away or are severe.

Diarrhea, muscle cramps or weakness, back or leg pain, insomnia (trouble sleeping), sinusitis, or upper respiratory infection: Call your doctor if these symptoms don't go away or are severe.

Irregular heartbeat, or fast or slow heartbeat: Call your doctor if these symptoms don't go away or are severe.

Confusion: Call your doctor right away.

If you have severe vomiting or diarrhea, you may become dehydrated. This can lead to low blood pressure. Call your doctor. Also call them if you have any other side effects that concern you.

Don’t use salt substitutes if you’re taking an ARB. They have potassium and can also cause you to retain it. Choose foods low in both potassium and sodium. A dietitian can help you.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen or naproxen) and aspirin may make you hang on to sodium and water and lower the effect of your ARB.

Check with your doctor before taking any anti-inflammatory medications.

Digoxin and warfarin may interfere with the effects of some ARBs. If you’re taking these drugs, tell your doctor before an ARB is prescribed.

Talk to your doctor before taking any new medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements.