Angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARBs) are a group of prescription medications commonly used to treat various conditions. Also known as angiotensin-II receptor antagonists, they include losartan, candesartan, valsartan, olmesartan, irbesartan, telmisartan, eprosartan, and azilsartan. These medications are primarily available in tablet form.
ARBs are prescribed for the management of high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart failure. They work by blocking the actions of a hormone in the body called angiotensin II. This action widens blood vessels and reduces fluid retention, effectively lowering blood pressure. By making it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, ARBs help manage heart failure. Lowering high blood pressure also reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, ARBs have protective effects on the heart and kidneys. Consequently, they may be prescribed for individuals who have experienced a heart attack or who have diabetes and kidney problems. ARBs are typically recommended when another class of medication, called ACE inhibitors, is not well tolerated, such as in cases of persistent dry cough. While primarily prescribed for adults, some ARBs can also be used in children.
The specific dosage and administration instructions for ARBs will be provided by your doctor. Typically, treatment starts with a low dosage, which may be gradually increased if necessary. ARBs are usually taken once or twice a day. It's important to note that the initial dose of an ARB may cause a temporary drop in blood pressure, known as "first dose hypotension." This can result in dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. To mitigate this effect, your doctor may advise taking the first dose before bedtime. Subsequently, subsequent doses can be taken at your convenience, ideally at the same time each day. While taking an ARB, your doctor may perform tests to monitor kidney function, blood pressure, and electrolyte levels.
ARBs should not be taken by individuals with known allergies to any of the medication's ingredients. Additionally, if you are already taking a blood pressure-lowering medication called aliskiren and have diabetes or kidney problems, ARBs should be avoided. Generally, ARBs are not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to potential risks.
As with any medication, ARBs may cause side effects in some individuals. If any side effects become bothersome, it is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist. Possible side effects of ARBs include diarrhea, back pain, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Since ARBs can lower blood pressure, they may occasionally cause dizziness and lightheadedness, especially upon standing up (known as postural hypotension). It is advisable to avoid alcohol consumption as it can exacerbate these side effects.
It is essential to adhere to your prescribed treatment plan and report any concerns or adverse reactions to your healthcare provider for appropriate management and guidance.
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