The Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) have been efficacious and safe drugs for the treatment of hypertension, heart failure, diabetic nephropathy and stroke from several short and long term clinical trials. The ARBs exert their effects through selective blockade of the angiotensin II (Ang-II) subtype 1 (AT1) receptor and quite possibly through stimulation by Ang-II of the unoccupied subtype 2 (AT2) receptor. The ARBs are equipotent to other antihypertensive drugs with respect to their effect on blood pressure, heart failure or diabetic nephropathy. They appear to be superior to the other drugs with respect to their stroke protective effect. They exert their stroke protective effect by a dual action, selectively blocking the action of Ang-II on the AT1 receptors, while allowing Ang-II to stimulate the unoccupied AT2 receptors. This dual action is unique to ARBs and results in vasodilation and increase in blood flow to the ischemic zone of the brain leading to improvement and prevention of its extension. All these actions of the ARBs will be discussed in this comprehensive review.
Keywords: cardiovascular remodeling, stroke, Hypertension, Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation, rennin-angiotensin system
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