heart failure help relieve the symptoms of
heart failure by:
Removing excess fluid from the body. The class
of medicines known as diuretics acts principally to rid the body of excess
Improving the ability of the heart to pump more
effectively. Another type of medicine, digoxin, works primarily by increasing
the strength of the contraction of the heart.
injury to the heart. A class of medicines known as angiotensin-converting
enzyme (ACE) inhibitors acts both by improving the efficiency of pumping and by
preventing further damage to the heart.
How do medicines prolong my survival?
classes of medicines have been proven to increase the life span of people with
heart failure. These include:
a diuretic. (Other diuretics can improve symptoms but do not improve
The exact mechanism by which these medicines prolong
survival is not entirely clear. Each medicine might have several beneficial
effects for people with heart failure. In terms of prolonging survival, the
most important effects may be the ability of these drugs to prevent both lethal
abnormal heart rhythms and their ability to limit ongoing damage to the
What types of medicines are used to treat heart failure?
There are many medicines that are designed to control symptoms of heart
failure, improve heart function, and enhance chances of long-term survival.
These medicines can be grouped together into classes of drugs that work in
similar ways to treat heart failure. The three classes of medicines that have
been proved to have the greatest benefit for people with heart failure are
summarized in the following table.
Medicines for heart failure
How it works
Diuretics stimulate your kidneys to get rid
of extra fluid from your body. Since many of the symptoms of heart failure are
caused by increased fluid in the body, diuretics can provide relief from some
of the most uncomfortable symptoms.
Spironolactone also blocks
the activity of a hormone called aldosterone that may contribute to worsening
aldosterone antagonist diuretic (spironolactone)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
block the production of angiotensin II, a hormone that makes heart failure
worse by leading to salt and water retention, which increases blood
Angiotensin II receptor blockers make it
hard for the hormone angiotensin to work. This hormone causes blood vessels to
narrow. ARBs help the blood vessels relax and widen, which reduces blood
pressure. ARBs also increase the release of water and sodium to the urine,
which lowers blood pressure too.