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Medications for Heart Disease

Like many people with heart disease, you’ll likely take a few different types of medication. Some reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke. Others control risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol. You may also take medications for other heart problems, such as heart failure or arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm). And other health conditions, such as diabetes, likely require medication, too. Keeping track of your medications and knowing what each does can get confusing.

Medications for heart disease

Many people with heart disease take the 4 medications described in this chart. Other common medications are listed later. With your doctor’s or cardiac rehab team’s help, review the types of medications that have been prescribed for you.

 

Type of medication

What it does

Statin

Reduces the amount of LDL ("bad') cholesterol and other fats in the blood, which reduces chance of clogged arteries.

May improve levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB)t

Lowers blood pressure and decreases strain on the heart. This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves blood flow.

Aspirin

Helps prevent blood clots, which could block an artery.

May reduce your risk of a heart attack.

Beta-blocker

Lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate.

May strengthen the heart's pumping action over time.

 

Other medications you may take

  

Type of medication

What it does

Antiarrhythmic

Helps slow and regulate a fast or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Anticoagulant

Helps reduce the risk that a blood clot will form and block the artery.

Antihypertensive

Helps lower blood pressure.

Calcium channel blocker

Helps blood flow more easily through the arteries.

Digoxin

Slows heart rate and helps the heart pump more with each beat.

Diuretic

Helps rid the body of excess water. This is important if you have high blood pressure or heart failure.

Nitrate (nitroglycerine)

Helps prevent and treat angina.

Vasodilator

Helps blood flow more easily through the arteries.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 6/1/2013
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