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Medicines for Heart Disease

You will likely take several types of medicine for your heart disease. Some of the medicines reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke. Others control blood pressure and cholesterol. You may also take medicines for other heart problems, such as heart failure or irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). And other health conditions such as diabetes likely also need medicines. Keeping track of your medicines and knowing what each does can get confusing.

Medicines for heart disease

Many people with heart disease take the 4 medications shown in this chart. Other common medicines are listed later. Your doctor or cardiac rehab team can help you look at the types of medicines that have been prescribed for you.

 

Type of medicine

What it does

Statin

Lowers the amount of LDL ("bad') cholesterol and other fats in the blood. This lowers the chance of clogged arteries.

May make your levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol better.

ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB)t

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

Aspirin

Helps prevent blood clots. These could block an artery.

May reduce your risk for a heart attack.

Beta-blocker

Lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate.

May strengthen the heart's pumping action over time.

 

Other medicines you may take

  

Type of medicine

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 your body get rid of extra 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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