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ARBs Drugs: Important Facts About The "Sartan" Drugs

ARBs Drugs: Important Facts About The "Sartan" Drugs

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers or ARBs drugs are common medicines given to people with hypertension. Here’s what you need to know about its mechanism of action, administration, and side-effects.

List of ARBs Drugs

Before we talk about their mechanism of action, administration, and side-effects, let’s first enumerate the examples of angiotensin II receptor blockers. They include the “sartan” medicines, like:

  • Losartan
  • Valsartan
  • Irbesartan
  • Olmesartan
  • Telmisartan
  • Eprosartan
  • Candesartan

Mechanism of Action: How Do ARBs Drugs Work?

While angiotensin II receptor blockers are common medicines for hypertension, please note that doctors also prescribe them for other conditions, such as heart failure and chronic kidney disease. Patients may also receive these medicines after experiencing a heart attack.

But, how do the “sartan” drugs work for hypertension? What’s their mechanism of action?

ARBs drugs work by blocking the receptors where the hormone angiotensin II acts on. Angiotensin II is largely responsible for the constriction of blood vessels and salt and water redemption, both of which contribute to increased blood pressure.

By blocking the receptor, ARBs drugs inhibit the effects of angiotensin II, helping treat hypertension.

Are ARBs Drugs The Same as ACE Inhibitors?

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors produce the same effect as the “sartan” drugs. However, their mechanism of action is different.

Where angiotensin II receptor blockers inhibit the action of the hormone, ACE inhibitors, on the other hand, prevent certain enzymes from producing angiotensin II.

How To Take “Sartan” Drugs

The administration of angiotensin II receptor blockers depends on the specific medicine your doctor gives you.

“Sartan” medicines come in various dosage forms; the doctor may give you the initial dose once daily or increase it based on your condition or response.

Note that all angiotensin II receptor blockers have a maximum daily dose. For instance, the maximum daily dose of losartan is 100 mg; valsartan, on the other hand, has a maximum daily dose of 320 mg.

Other general rules in administration include:

  • Taking the medicine regularly, strictly as prescribed.
  • Taking the medicine even if your BP becomes normal.
  • Being careful with potassium supplements since ARBs drugs can increase potassium levels.

Finally, go to your doctor’s appointment for a follow-up check-up. Don’t forget to bring all the necessary laboratory test results, the record of your blood pressure readings, and the record of side effects, if there were any. This is so the doctor can determine whether the medicine is working well.


If you’re taking any of the ARBs drugs, you may experience the following side-effects:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Hyperkalemia or high potassium levels
  • Angioedema or swelling of the skin due to fluid buildup

Also, please keep in mind that some angiotensin II receptor blockers may have side effects that other ARBs drugs do not list. Case in point: olmesartan may lead to digestive symptoms, like diarrhea.

Interactions With Foods and Drugs

Before prescribing you any angiotensin II receptor blocker, the doctor will talk to you about your other medications.

This is because it’s common for hypertensive patients to have more than just one type of medicine (especially in the case of resistant hypertension). If the doctor discontinues or changes some of your medications, it’s probably because of the possibility of drug interactions.

For instance, taking potassium-sparing water pills or painkillers while you’re under angiotensin II receptor blockers further increases the risk of hyperkalemia (high potassium levels in the blood).

Likewise, the doctor might ask you to strictly limit your alcohol intake and avoid salt substitutes that contain potassium.

Key Takeaways

Angiotensin II receptor blockers or ARBs drugs are common medicines for hypertension. They work by widening the blood vessels and preventing salt and water retention, thereby decreasing the blood pressure.

Most ARBs drugs are maintenance medicines, which you need to take once daily even if your blood pressure becomes normal.

Learn more about Hypertension here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/drug-cabinet/arbs, Accessed October 28, 2021

Angiotensin II receptor blockers, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/angiotensin-ii-receptor-blockers/art-20045009, Accessed October 28, 2021

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/pl1009, Accessed October 28, 2021

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARB), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537027/, Accessed October 28, 2021

ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers), https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/treatments/medications/angiotensin-receptor-blockers, Accessed October 28, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Nov 02
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.