Medicines
   Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Brand Names in the United States: Atacand (candesartan cilexetil), Avapro (irbesartan), Benicar (olmesartan), Cozaar (losartan), Diovan (valsartan), Hyzaar (losartan), Micardis (telmisartan), Teveten (eprosartan mesylate)


Disclaimer

The information in this Medicines for Cardiovascular Disease section has been taken from a number of sources. It is meant to give you information about certain medicines, but it does not cover all of the possible uses, warnings, side effects, or interactions with other medicines and vitamin or herbal supplements. This information should not be used as medical advice for individual problems. Please talk to your doctor and/or your pharmacist for prescription instructions.


Why do I need to take angiotensin II receptor blockers?

Angiotensin II receptor blockers are used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). These medicines work as well as ACE inhibitors for treating high blood pressure, but may not cause the cough that is sometimes associated with ACE inhibitors.

How do angiotensin II receptor blockers work?

These medicines block the action of angiotensin II, an enzyme that is responsible for causing the blood vessels to narrow. If the blood vessels are relaxed, your blood pressure is lowered and more oxygen-rich blood can reach your heart.

How much do I take?

There are many different kinds of angiotensin II receptor blockers. The amount of medicine that you need to take varies. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information about how and when to take this medicine.

What if I am taking other medicines?

Other medicines that you may be taking can increase or decrease the effect of angiotensin II receptor blockers. These effects are called an interaction. Be sure to tell your doctor about every medicine and vitamin or herbal supplement that you are taking, so he or she can make you aware of any interactions.

The following are some of the medicines that can interact with certain kinds of angiotensin II receptor blockers. Because there are so many kinds of medicines within each category, not every type of medicine is listed by name. Tell your doctor about every medicine that you are taking, even if it is not listed below.

  • Diuretics.
  • Medicines, vitamin supplements, or salt substitutes that contain potassium.
  • Any other medicines that you may be taking to treat high blood pressure or a heart condition.
  • Any over-the-counter medicines for hay fever, cold, or flu.

Also, do not drink alcohol until you have spoken with your doctor. Taking alcohol and angiotensin II receptor blockers together can lower your blood pressure too much, making it more likely that you may become dizzy or faint.

What else should I tell my doctor?

Talk to your doctor about your medical history before you start taking angiotensin II receptor blockers. The risks of taking the medicine need to be weighed against its benefits. Here are some things to consider if you and your doctor are deciding whether you should take an angiotensin II receptor blocker.

  • You have allergies to other medicines.
  • You are thinking of becoming pregnant or you are pregnant.
  • You have taken an ACE inhibitor in the past and had a bad reaction.
  • You are breast-feeding your baby. (Doctors do not know if these medicines pass into breast milk. Do not breast-feed your baby and take these medicines without first talking to your doctor.)
  • You have other medical problems, such as kidney disease or liver disease.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have severe congestive heart failure (especially if you are taking Avapro or Diovan).
  • You tend to become dehydrated very easily (especially if you are taking Avapro or Diovan).

What are the side effects?

Sometimes a medicine causes unwanted effects. These are called side effects. Not all of the side effects for angiotensin II receptor blockers are listed here. If you feel these or any other effects, you should check with your doctor.

Common side effects:

  • Headache (with Cozaar)

Less common side effects:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Nervousness
  • Heartburn

Rare side effects:

  • Stuffy nose or cough
  • Chills
  • A hoarse voice
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, hands, or feet
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

Again, tell your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking your medicine without checking with your doctor, it can make your condition worse.


 Updated October 2013

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