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Heart Disease Medicine: How Can It Help You?

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Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs)

This type of heart disease medicine is also called a calcium antagonist. CCBs can have these effects:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce chest pain (angina)
  • Help lower your heart rate

How do calcium channel blockers accomplish this? CCBs prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells in your heart and blood vessels. This keeps blood vessels from tightening so much and causes the heart to pump with less strength. Your heart rate slows and blood can flow more easily through the vessels. This lowers your blood pressure.

Examples of CCBs are Cardizem CD (diltiazem), Calan (verapamil), and Norvasc (amlodipine).

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Cholesterol-lowering drugs help in these ways:

  • Lower LDL bad cholesterol
  • Raise HDL good cholesterol
  • Lower triglyceride levels (a fat in your blood)

Cholesterol-lowering drugs work in a variety of ways to improve your heart health. Some change the way the liver processes cholesterol and fat. Others affect the way your body digests nutrients. Still others prevent cholesterol from flowing through your blood vessels.

Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Examples include:

  • Statins lower LDL (''bad'') cholesterol levels and keep cholesterol from forming in your blood vessels.
  • Lopid (gemfibrozil) raises HDL (''good'') cholesterol levels.
  • Nicotinic acid (niacin) lowers triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Atromid-S (clofibrate) raises HDL cholesterol levels and lowers triglyceride levels.
  • Resins (bile acid-binding drugs) help intestines dispose of cholesterol.

Combined Alpha- and Beta-Blockers

This type of heart disease medicine helps lower your blood pressure. It does this by slowing your heart rate and reducing nerve impulses that tell your vessels to tighten.

Examples of combined alpha- and beta-blockers include Coreg (carvedilol) and Normodyne and Trandate (labetolol).

Digitalis Drugs

This type of heart disease medicine can be helpful in these cases:

  • If you have heart failure
  • If you have an irregular heartbeat, especially atrial fibrillation

Digitalis drugs work by making your heart beat stronger and can help slow down heart rate. Lanoxin (digoxin) is one example of a digitalis medicine.

Diuretics

Diuretics are often called "water pills." Diuretics can help your heart in these ways:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce swelling from extra fluid buildup throughout your body
  • Relieve your heart's workload
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