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Heart Disease and Diuretics

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Sometimes diuretics are used as heart disease treatment. Diuretics, commonly known as "water pills," help your body get rid of unneeded water and salt through the urine. Getting rid of excess fluid makes it easier for your heart to pump and controls blood pressure. Examples of diuretics include:

Diuretics are categorized as thiazide-like (Zaroxolyn and Esidrix), loop (Lasix, Bumex, Demadex) or potassium sparing (Aldactone). Thiazide diuretics cause moderate increases in water excretion and are appropriate for long-term use. Loop diuretics are more powerful and are especially useful in emergencies. Potassium-sparing diuretics help your body retain the mineral potassium and are often prescribed in conjunction with the other two types of diuretics.

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Who Should Take Diuretics?

If you have any of the following conditions, your doctor may recommend you take a diuretic.

  • Edema. Diuretics decrease swelling (edema) that usually occurs in the legs.
  • High blood pressure. Thiazide diuretics lower blood pressure, which reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Heart failure. Diuretics reduce the swelling (edema) and water build up in the lungs (congestion) caused by heart failure. Normally, loop diuretics are used for heart failure.
  • Kidney problems. Diuretics reduce water retention.
  • Liver problems. Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid build up associated with cirrhosis (disease of the liver).
  • Glaucoma. Diuretics reduce the pressure in the eye associated with this disease.

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