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Heart Disease Health Center

Heart Disease Medicine: How Can It Help You?

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Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

This type of heart disease medicine can help in these ways:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Make the heart's work easier
  • Help the heart work more efficiently
  • Improve the heart's function if you have heart ffailure

Here's how ACE inhibitors work: They prevent your body from making angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is a hormone that makes blood vessels tighten. Because ACE inhibitors lower the amount of this hormone in your body, your blood vessels remain relaxed. Blood flows more easily through the vessels, lowering your overall blood pressure. Your heart doesn't have to work so hard to pump blood through your vessels.

Capoten (captopril), Vasotec (enalapril), Lotensin (benazapril), and lisinopril are examples of ACE inhibitors.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

This type of heart disease medicine can have these effects:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Ease the work of your heart

ARBs block the action of angiotensin II, a hormone that makes blood vessels tighten. As a result, blood vessels remain relaxed. Blood flows more easily through the vessels. Your blood pressure becomes lower and your heart has to work less to pump blood through them. You may also use an ARB if you can not tolerate ACE inhibitors due to a cough, a common side effect.

Examples of ARBs include Cozaar (losartan), Avapro (irbesartan), and Micardis (telmisartan).

Beta-Blockers

This type of heart disease medicine can help your heart in these ways:

  • Makes your heart beat more slowly
  • Makes your heart beat with less force
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Helps prevent future heart attacks if you have already had one
  • Relieves chest pain
  • Helps your heart beat more steadily

How do beta-blockers accomplish all this? They prevent the hormone adrenaline from working. When adrenaline is blocked, your heartbeat slows down. Your heart can't pump so hard. This makes blood go through your vessels with less force. The pressure inside your blood vessels drops. Your heart works less.

Examples of beta-blockers include Tenormin (atenolol), Coreg (carvedilol), and Lopressor (metoprolol).

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