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Common Heart Medicines

Woman talking to doctor about pills.Many different medicines can help treat heart disease. Learn what type of medicine you’re taking, what it treats, and how to take it safely. If you have questions about why you need a medicine or how it works, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Medicines are prescribed in just the right doses for your heart condition. They work only if you take them exactly as directed. So while your doctor can prescribe the best medicine for you, it’s up to you to take them correctly.

Keep a list

Keep a list of all your medicines. Include your dosage and the time or times you take them. If any changes to your medicine are made, be sure to update your list. And share this list with any new healthcare provider that you visit.

Common types of medicine

  • ACE inhibitors treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

  • Antiarrhythmics help slow and regulate a fast or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

  • Anticoagulants help reduce the risk that a blood clot will form and block the artery (thrombosis).

  • Antihypertensives help treat high blood pressure (hypertension).

  • Aspirin (taken regularly in the right dosage) helps reduce blood clots.

  • Beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers help treat high blood pressure. They may also help prevent chest pain (angina) and regulate an arrhythmia.

  • Digitalis/digoxin helps treat heart failure and may help an irregular heartbeat.

  • Diuretics help treat high blood pressure, fluid balance, and heart failure. They are sometimes called water pills because they help your body get rid of excess water.

  • Lipid-lowering medicines, such as statins, help control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • Nitrates help prevent and treat angina.

  • Vasodilators help blood flow more easily through the arteries. Calcium channel blockers and nitrates are vasodilators.

Take heart medicines at the same time every day. This will keep the amount of medicine in your bloodstream at a steady level.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Gandelman, Glenn, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2016
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