Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
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Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) are usually used in hypertension, HF and post-MI, usually when an ACE-inhibitor has been ineffective or not tolerated. They are also used ot treat diabetic nephropathy.

ACE-Inhibitors often result in a dry cough (approx. 20% of patients), probably caused by the accumulation of bradykinin secondary to the reduced action of ACE. Patients unable to tolerate the cough should be treated with the second line ARBs.

Sometimes called ‘Sartans’ – all Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers end with ‘sartan’, e.g. Losartan.

Mechanism of action

  • Selectively inhibit angiotensin II at the AT1 receptor site
  • Binding of angiotensin II at the AT1 receptor causes: vasoconstriction, release of aldosterone, sympathetic activation and other potentially harmful effects in the CV system. Therefore, by antagonising angiotensin II at the AT1 receptor it will prevent these effects
  • Therefore, causes VASODILATION and blockage of aldosterone release



  • Patients on an ARBs with aliskiren is contra-indicated if their eGFR is below 60ml/min/1.73 m2
  • Combination of ARBs with aliskiren is contra-indicated in diabetes mellitus



  • Afro- Caribbean patients with LV hypertrophy, may not benefit from ARBs
  • Aortic/Mitral stenosis
  • Elderly, (initially start with low appropriate doses)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • History of angioedema
  • 1o aldosteronism (may not benefits from ARBs)
  • Renal artery stenosis



The interactions listed here are POTENTIALLY SERIOUS which is indicated by a black dot in the BNF. Further details of these interactions can be found in the BNF or Stockleys.

Furthermore, there are other interaction which are not potentially serious, nevertheless they should still be monitored and clinical judgement should be used.




Hyperkalaemia, angioedema (possible delayed onset), symptomatic hypotension which includes dizziness (especially in patients with intravascular volume depletion, e.g. patients taking high dose diuretics)


  • Unless it is essential, ARBS should be AVOIDED in pregnancy
  • It may potentially be teratogenic. Therefore, may affects the foetal and neonatal blood pressure control and renal function
  • Neonatal skulls defects and oligohydramnios (too little amniotic fluid) have been reported.


Breast feeding

  • Limited data on ARBs in breast feeding
  • Generally not recommended in breast feeding
  • Other alternatives should be used, which have more data on their safety in breast feeding


Renal Impairment

  • Use with caution
  • Start with a low dose, adjust dose according to response



  • Monitor plasma K+ concentration, especially in elderly and in patient with renal impairment. Can lead to Hyperkalaemia


  • BNF 70, Joint Formulary Committee (2015) British National Formulary. 70th Ed., London: British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
  • Payne, J and Willacy, H. (2016). Oligohydramnios
  • British Hypertension Society. (2008). Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

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Dr Tom Leach

Dr Tom Leach MBChB DCH EMCert(ACEM) FRACGP currently works as a GP and an Emergency Department CMO in Australia. He is also a Clinical Associate Lecturer at the Australian National University, and is studying for a Masters of Sports Medicine at the University of Queensland. After graduating from his medical degree at the University of Manchester in 2011, Tom completed his Foundation Training at Bolton Royal Hospital, before moving to Australia in 2013. He started almostadoctor whilst a third year medical student in 2009. Read full bio

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