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Heart Disease Medications

Different kinds of drugs are used to treat different heart disease. Some heart medications are used to treat a risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol and others are prescribed to prevent or relieve the symptoms of heart disease. Even if you take medications for heart disease, it's important to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle, as healthy habits will keep the dosage of your medication as low as possible.

Different groups of heart medications are listed below:

  • Beta Blockers: These drugs are used in treating hypertension. Beta blocker slows the heart rate and lessens the force with which the heart muscle contracts. In other words, they make the heart pump stronger delivering blood supply more effectively to all areas of the body.

    Beta-blockers are prescribed for heart conditions like:

    • Heart failure
    • High blood pressure
    • Chest pain
    • Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Heart attack

    Side effects of Beta blockers are:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Sudden weight gain
    • Dizziness
    • Tiredness and difficulty in sleeping.
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Ace inhibitors (ACE): Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are heart medications that help to widen or dilate the blood vessels thus improving the amount of blood that the heart pumps out and it also helps lower blood pressure. As ACE inhibitors increase blood flow, it decreases the amount of work the heart has to do thus improving the condition of a failing heart.

    ACE Inhibitors are prescribed for the following heart conditions:

    • High blood pressure.
    • Heart failure: ACE inhibitors are critical in the treatment of heart failure as they prevent further weakening of the heart and prolong your life.
    • Heart attack: ACE inhibitors can prevent the damage to the heart after a heart attack.
    • Diabetes: Some ACE inhibitors slow the process that leads to kidney damage in type 2 diabetics.
    • Heart disease prevention: ACE inhibitor decreases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

    The side effects of ACE Inhibitors are:

    • Allergic reaction like sneezing, respiratory congestion, itching or skin rash
    • Increased heart rate
    • Edema
    • Headache
    • Drowsiness, weakness, or fatigue
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Chest pain and joint pain
  • Calcium channel blockers: These are medications that are used to treat certain kind of arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation and other conditions like high blood pressure. Calcium in the heart cells makes the heart to contract and the arteries to narrow, but calcium channel blockers prevents the entry of calcium into the muscle cells of the heart and the arteries.

    Calcium channel blockers are prescribed for the following hear conditions:

    • Coronary artery disease
    • Coronary spasm
    • Angina
    • Abnormal heart rhythms
    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
    • Diastolic heart failure

    The side effects that one can experience when taking these drugs are:

    • Drowsiness.
    • Increased appetite.
    • Weight gain.
    • Breathing difficulties.
    • Irregular or slow heartbeat
    • Allergic reaction
    • Tenderness or bleeding of the gums.
    • Swelling of feet, ankles, and legs.
    • Fainting.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): These medications help lower blood pressure and are commonly prescribed for the treatment of heart failure. These heart drugs allow more blood flow by decreasing the chemicals that narrow the blood vessels and they also decrease certain chemicals that cause salt and fluid build-up in the body.

    These drugs are used to treat conditions like:

    • High blood pressure
    • Heart failure
    • Kidney failure
    • Scleroderma

    The side effects of Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are:

    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Diarrhea, muscle cramps or weakness
    • Confusion.
    • Severe vomiting or diarrhea.
    • Swelling of the neck, face, and tongue.

    Antiarrhythmic: These medications are prescribed when the heart beats at an irregular heart rhythm. They get rid of the arrhythmia and cause the heart to pump more effectively. Arrhythmias happen when the atrium and the ventricles which normally beat in a synchronized way, lose their normal rhythm.

    The side effects of Antiarrhythmic are:

    • Worsening of arrhythmias
    • Allergic reaction
    • Chest pain
    • Swelling of the feet or legs
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Bitter or metallic taste or change in taste
    • Loss of appetite
    • Cough
    • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
    • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Anticoagulants: They are also referred as blood thinners and these drugs are used to prevent coagulation or clotting inside the blood stream. They prevent the formation of blood clot or stop a clot already formed from getting larger. People who had a heart attack, had a stroke, or have a history of blood clots are usually put on blood thinners.

    Problems caused by anticoagulants are:

    • Blood in the urine
    • Blood in the stools
    • Bleeding from your gums
    • Very long periods of head aches
    • Very long periods of abdominal pain
    • Feel weak, faint and dizzy
    • Water pills (Diuretics): Diuretics also known as "water pills" are used to treat fluid retention in the body by getting rid of excess water and sodium through the kidneys.

    Conditions treated with diuretics are:

    • High blood pressure.
    • Heart failure.
    • Edema
    • Kidney problems and Liver problems
    • Glaucoma.
  • Aspirin: It is commonly used as a blood thinning medication for those who are at risk of developing blood clots or people who have suffered a heart attack or a stroke.

    The benefits of aspirins are:

    • Decreases pain: They fight pain and inflammation associated with heart disease.
    • Inhibits blood clots.
    • Reduces the risk of death
  • Digitalis: This heart drug works directly on the heart muscle to strengthen and regulate the heartbeat. It is also used to treat certain heart conditions.