Risks and Benefits of Medicines for Heart Failure - Topic Overview
Heart failure is a very serious illness that can cause
life-threatening complications and significantly limit your life span.
Fortunately, many drugs have been shown to slow the progression of heart
failure, and several drugs have been shown to prolong survival. Each of these
medicines has risks and benefits that you and your doctor will need to weigh
when you are deciding whether you should take the medicine.
How do medicines relieve symptoms?
heart failure help relieve symptoms by:
Removing excess fluid from the body. The class
of medicines known as diuretics acts mainly to rid the body of excess
Improving the ability of the heart to pump more
effectively. Another type of medicine, digoxin, works mainly 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 survival?
medicines may help increase the life span of people who have
heart failure. These include:
II receptor blockers).
Aldosterone receptor antagonists, which are a type of diuretic. (Other types of 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
Benefits and risks of heart failure drugs
Drug or class of drugs
Inhibit adverse effects of angiotensin
II on the heart and blood vessels
Reduce heart failure
Low blood pressure
tissue swelling of the face and throat, and hives (severe allergy)