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Common Heart Disease Drugs

There are a variety of drugs prescribed for patients with heart disease. It's important for both patients living with heart disease and those who care for them to understand the prescribed medication, to follow the directions of usage, and to be able to recognize the possible side effects associated with the medicine. The drugs most commonly prescribed for heart disease include:

ACE Inhibitors: ACE inhibitors are a type of medication that dilates (widens) arteries to lower blood pressure and make it easier for the heart to pump blood. They also block some of the harmful actions of the endocrine system that may occur with heart failure.

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Aldosterone Inhibitor:Spironolactone and eplerenone are potassium-sparing diuretics. They can be prescribed to reduce the swelling and water build-up caused by heart failure. Diuretics cause the kidneys to send unneeded water and salt from the tissues and blood into the urine.

They may improve heart failure symptoms that are still present despite use of other treatments. These drugs protect the heart by blocking a chemical (aldosterone) in the body that causes salt and fluid build-up. This medication is used to treat patients with certain types of severe heart failure.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker (ARBs): ARBs are used to decrease blood pressure in people with heart failure. ARBs decrease certain chemicals that narrow the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily through your body. They also decrease certain chemicals that cause salt and fluid build-up in the body.

Beta-Blockers: Beta-blockers block the effects of adrenaline (epinephrine) and thereby improve the heart's ability to perform. They also decrease the production of harmful substances produced by the body in response to heart failure.

Calcium Channel Blockers: Calcium channel blockers are prescribed to treat angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers affect the movement of calcium in the cells of the heart and blood vessels. As a result, the drugs relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, while reducing its workload.

Calcium channel blockers are only used to treat heart failure caused by high blood pressure when other medications to lower blood pressure are ineffective. Certain calcium channel blockers are used for certain types of heart failure. Consult your doctor to see if one is right for you.

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. But inflammation may lead to cholesterol build-up in the walls of arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Some people have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol levels. These people may need drug therapy such as statins in addition to a healthier diet to reduce their risk of atherosclerosis.

Digoxin: Digoxin helps an injured or weakened heart to work more efficiently and to send blood through the body. It strengthens the force of the heart muscle's contractions and may improve blood circulation.

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