Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

        Health | Heart

The following table lists some of the common brand and generic names for angiotensin II receptor blocker medicines.

brand generic
Atacand candesartan cilexetil
Avapro irbesartan
Cozaar losartan potassium
Diovan valsartan
Micardis telmisartan

Angiotensin II receptor blockers produce effects much like those caused by ACE inhibitors.

How Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers Work

The chemical called angiotensin II raises your blood pressure. It does this by narrowing your arteries. Angiotensin II receptor blocker medicines block special receptor cells in the smooth muscles of your blood vessels. This means your blood vessels cannot receive this chemical. When angiotensin II is blocked, your blood vessels relax. So your blood can flow more easily. This causes your blood pressure to go down, and your heart to work more efficiently. An added benefit of angiotensin II receptor blockers is that they do not cause as much coughing as ACE inhibitors.

Precautions and Possible Side Effects

Precautions to take if you are on angiotensin II receptor blockers:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, think you might be, or are planning to become pregnant soon. You should not take angiotensin II receptor blockers in any of these cases.
  • Do not use potassium supplements unless instructed to do so by your doctor. They can cause problems when taken with this type of blood pressure medicine.
Possible side effects of angiotensin II receptor blockers:
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • possible liver function test abnormality

Not everyone who takes an angiotensin II receptor blocker will have these side effects. You should not be afraid to take your medicine because of the side effects listed. They are listed so that you can watch out for them and tell your doctor right away if you experience any of them.

Possible Drug Interactions With Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Before you take an angiotensin II receptor blocker, tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines you take. Include medicines you take for your blood pressure as well as for any other problem. Tell them about everything you take and how much you take each day, including all of the following:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • herbs
  • vitamin and mineral supplements

It's best to keep an updated list of these and bring a copy to give to your doctor. That way you can add to it whenever you take something new or delete the types you no longer take. Make a copy for each of your doctors so that they can keep it in your file. This complete list helps your doctor be better prepared to prescribe an angiotensin II receptor blocker that is the least likely to interact with your other treatments.