Angiotensin Receptor Blockers: Pharmacology, Efficacy, and Safety


Addison A. Taylor, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX


J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2011;13:677–686. ©2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Key Points and Practical Recommendations

  • • The angiotensin receptor blockers are highly effective antihypertensive agents that are also particularly well tolerated.
  • • There are no major differences in efficacy or other clinical characteristics among older drugs in this class, although some of the newer agents may more effectively reduce blood pressure than older agents.
  • • Major randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that angiotensin receptor blockers provide significant outcomes benefits in conditions such as diabetic nephropathy, chronic heart failure or heart failure following myocardial infarction, hypertension with left ventricular hypertrophy and in patients whose histories of previous events or complicated diabetes puts them at high cardiovascular risk.
  • • In treating hypertension, angiotensin receptor blockers can be used as first-line therapy or added at later stages of treatment titration.
  • • These drugs are very effective in combination with thiazide diuretics or calcium channel blockers and there are several single-pill, fixed-dose combinations of angiotensin receptor blockers with hydrochlorothiazide, amlodipine, or aliskiren. These combinations can be given as initial therapy (where appropriate) or later in the course of treatment. Three-drug combinations (angiotensin receptor blocker plus amlodipine plus hydrochlorothiazide and angiotensin receptor blocker plus aliskiren plus hydrochlorothiazide) are also available.