One of the goals when you take medication for heart disease is to be sure that your medication helps your heart function as well as possible. One step toward achieving this goal is to avoid some medications. What kinds of problems might these medicines cause?
Some medicine can make blood pressure rise, placing an extra burden on your heart.
Some medications may interact with your heart disease medicine. This can prevent either medicine from working properly.
Here are common types of medicines that can make your heart disease worse.
Atherosclerosis takes place over a lifetime. Complications from atherosclerosis tend to happen later in life. But the process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries starts early, progressing over decades.
Developing some atherosclerosis is often unavoidable. It's the result of aging and our own genetic tendencies. A much larger part, though, is determined by our behavior and lifestyle choices as we move through life.
How old are your arteries? Are they the ones you had in college? Or are...
NSAIDs include both prescription and over-the-counter medicine. They are often used to relieve pain or reduce inflammation from conditions such as arthritis. However, NSAIDs can make your body retain fluid and decrease the function of your kidneys. This may cause your blood pressure to rise even higher. The extra fluid and higher blood pressure puts an added burden on your heart.
Common NSAIDs include:
You may also find NSAIDs in over-the-counter medications for other maladies, so be sure to check the label. Ask your doctor if any NSAID is OK for you to use. Your doctor may be able to recommend alternatives, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of ibuprofen.
If you take aspirin as a precaution against heart attack or stroke, be sure you take only the amount suggested by your doctor.
Cough and Cold Medications
Many cough and cold medications contain NSAIDs to relieve pain. NSAIDs may increase your blood pressure, as well as cause your body to retain fluid. Both these effects increase your heart's workload.
Cough and cold medicines also frequently contain decongestants. Decongestants can make heart disease worse in these ways:
Decongestants may make your blood pressure and heart rate rise. Higher blood pressure puts an extra burden on your heart.
Decongestants may prevent your heart disease medication from working properly.
What can you do? Avoid using cough and cold medicine that contains NSAIDs or decongestants. Ask your doctor for suggestions about other ways to ease symptoms of cold, flu, or sinus problems.
Migraine Headache Medications
Some migraine medicines work by tightening blood vessels in your head. This relieves migraine pain. However, the medication also constricts blood vessels throughout your body. This makes your blood pressure rise, perhaps to dangerous levels.
If you have high blood pressure or any other type of heart disease, talk with your doctor before taking medication for migraines or severe headaches.
Weight Loss Medications
Some weight loss medications may make heart disease worse:
Appetite suppressants tend to "rev" up your body. This can make blood pressure rise and put more stress on your heart.
Before using any weight loss medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, be sure to check with your doctor. These medications may do you more harm than good.
More Tips for Avoiding Medication Problems
Be sure any medications you choose to use are safe for people who have heart disease. These suggestions can help:
Give a list of ALL the medications you use, both prescription and over-the-counter, to every doctor you visit.
Read medication labels before buying over-the-counter preparations. Make sure the medicine doesn't contain ingredients that could make your heart disease worse, such as NSAIDs or decongestants.
Talk to your doctor before using any over-the-counter medication, herbal preparation, vitamins, or other nutritional supplements. Ask for alternatives to potentially harmful medicines.
SOURCES: American Academy of Family Physicians: "Blood Pressure Medicines." American Heart Association: ''Cardiac Medications At-a-glance;'' ''Cold and Flu Medication for People with High Blood Pressure;'' ''Drug Interactions and Side Effects;'' ''Possible Side Effects of Drugs That Lower Blood Pressure;'' ''Quick Reference Medication Table;'' and ''Tips for Medication Safety.'' Institute for Safe Medication Practices: ''General Advice on Safe Medication Use: What You Can Do.'' National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia: Pain Medications, Drug Information. WebMD: ''Migraine Headaches: Topic Overview.'' National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight-control Information Network: ''Prescription Medicines for the Treatment of Obesity.'' CNN Interactive: ''Study warns against migraine medication for heart disease patients.''