The following are some of the heart disease medications available in the U.S.:
There are many drugs prescribed for heart disease. If you have a heart condition, It's important for you and anyone who may help to care for you to understand your medications and recognize possible side effects. Depending on the drug, your instructions may vary. So make sure you know how much, in what form, and how frequently you need to take your medicine.
The medications most doctors prescribe to people with heart disease come in the form of a tablet or liquid that you take by mouth. The most common side effects can vary by medication but are usually mild. They include headache, tiredness, dizziness, and a cough.
These medicines include:
Accupril (quinapril). This medication belongs to a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. These widen arteries to lower your blood pressure and make it easier for your heart to pump blood. It’s used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, which can lower your risk for kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Common side effects include coughing or dizziness.
Aceon (perindopril). This medication is also an ACE inhibitor. Your doctor might order it to treat high blood pressure. If you have coronary artery disease, this drug can lower your risk of heart attack or death. Among the common side effects are body aches, coughing, and chills.
Adalat (nifedipine). This medication belongs to a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers. Doctors prescribe it to treat certain types of chest pain (angina) or high blood pressure. You may have side effects that include coughing, trouble breathing, and swelling of your arms, hands, feet, or face.
Altace (ramipril). This medication is an ACE inhibitor. Your doctor may prescribe it to improve heart function after you’ve had a heart attack. If you’re 55 or older with serious heart disease, the drug can lower your odds of stroke, heart attack, or death. Among the common side effects are confusion, dizziness when sitting or standing up, and blurred vision.
Apresoline (hydralazine). Doctors use this medication to treat high blood pressure. If you’re pregnant and have blood pressure-related issues like eclampsia or pre-eclampsia, this drug can help control it. Apresoline can also be used in emergency situations if your blood pressure shoots up to dangerous levels. With this medication, you may have a skin rash, dizziness, or blurry vision.
Aspirin. This is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID). If you have chronic coronary artery disease or a history of severe chest pain, this medication can lower your risk of heart attack. Doctors also prescribe it to reduce your risk of repeat strokes if you’ve previously had one. Side effects include stomach pain and confusion.
Benicar HCT (hydrochlorothiazide and olmesartan). If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might use this drug alone or with other medications to bring it under control. The olmesartan in Benicar HCT is in a class of drugs known as angiotensin receptor blockers. They work in a similar way to an ACE inhibitor by relaxing your blood vessels. Dizziness, tiredness, and flu-like symptoms are the common side effects.
Brilinta (ticagrelor). Doctors prescribe this antiplatelet drug along with aspirin to lower your odds of heart attacks or strokes if you have acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a condition that blocks blood flow to your heart. It’s also used if you have coronary artery disease, or if you’ve previously had heart attacks, strokes, or a stent placed to prevent blood clots in your heart. You may have back pain, shortness of breath, or blurred vision when you take it.
Caduet (amlodipine and atorvastatin). This medication is a combination of two classes of drugs: a calcium channel inhibitor and a statin. You can take Caduet by itself or along with other medication to treat severe chest pain or high blood pressure. It’s also used to lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. If you take it and follow a well-balanced diet, it can help lower the unhealthy fat levels in your blood. Common side effects include coughing, dizziness, and a fast heartbeat.
Capoten (captopril). This ACE inhibitor is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, or to improve your heart function after you’ve had a heart attack. If you have diabetes, your doctor might give you this med to protect your kidneys. It may affect your ability to taste, or you may have a cough or feel dizzy.
Coreg (carvedilol). This high-blood pressure medication belongs to a class of drugs called beta-blockers. Once your blood pressure is under control, it can lower the stress on your heart and arteries in the long run. Coreg can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded, especially when you stand up or sit down too quickly. Sitting or lying down slowly can ease those symptoms.
Cozaar (losartan). This drug is in a class known as angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). You can take it to treat high blood pressure and lower your risk of a stroke. If you have type 2 diabetes along with uncontrolled high blood pressure, your doctor will give you this drug to prevent kidney issues. Side effects include a stuffy nose and back pain.
Dilatrate-SR (isosorbide dinitrate). You use this drug to prevent severe chest pain in certain heart conditions like coronary artery disease. Dilatrate-SR can also treat symptoms of heart failure if you take it along with certain other medications. It belongs to a class of drugs called nitrates.
Diovan (valsartan). This ARB is used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. It can also improve your quality of life after you’ve had a heart attack. If you have diabetes, this drug can prevent kidney issues. When you first take Diovan, it can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. But if you notice serious side effects like muscle weakness, fainting, or irregular heart rate, tell your doctor.
Effient (prasugrel). Your doctor will prescribe this antiplatelet medication to prevent blood clots if you’re more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other heart issues. Common side effects include dizziness, tiredness, and pain in your back, arms, or legs.
Heparin. This medication prevents your blood from forming harmful blood clots. It’s often called a blood thinner. It can be used during open heart surgery, bypass surgery, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusion. The medication comes in a liquid solution that you inject directly into a vein. Heparin cannot dissolve or remove clots that have already formed in your blood. With this drug, you may have belly or back pain, or your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth.
Imdur (isosorbide mononitrate). Doctors use this medication to prevent severe chest pain (angina attack) that stems from heart disease. The drug comes in an extended-release tablet. Its effects can last anywhere up to 10 hours. But if you’ve already begun to have chest pain, this drug won’t work fast enough to control it. Imdur is a type of nitrate.
Inspra (eplerenone). You can use this medicine to treat high blood pressure and any heart damage you have after a heart attack. Inspra is a type of diuretic, which means it helps you get rid of excess salt and water through your urine. Inspra may cause dizziness, headaches, and trouble sleeping.
IsoDitrate (isosorbide dinitrate). This med can prevent chest pain caused by heart disease, but it can’t control pain once it’s begun. It comes in a tablet, an extended-release tablet, or an extended-release capsule. It’s a type of nitrate. Side effects for isosorbide dinitrate include sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness.
Isordil (isosorbide dinitrate). This drug is used to prevent chest pain in people with coronary artery disease. Like other nitrates, Isordil relaxes and widens your blood vessels so that blood can flow smoothly to your heart.
Isotrate (isosorbide dinitrate). This drug is another brand option of isosorbide dinitrate, another nitrate. Much like other brands of the generic, it reduces chest pain if you have coronary artery disease. It can relax and open your blood vessels to allow smooth blood flow to your heart.
Lopressor (metoprolol). This medication is a beta-blocker that treats heart failure, chest pain, and high blood pressure. Lopressor blocks some chemicals, like epinephrine, in your body from impacting your heart and blood vessels. It helps prevent strokes, kidney problems, and heart attacks. With this drug, you may feel sleepy, get dizzy, or have diarrhea.
Lotensin (benazepril). You can use this drug to treat high blood pressure. This can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. Lotensin is a type of ACE inhibitor. The most common side effects are a cough, headache, dizziness, and sleepiness.
Lotrel (amlodipine and benazepril). This combination of drugs can help treat high blood pressure, which can lower your risk of strokes, heart attacks, or kidney issues. Amlodipine is a calcium channel blocker. Benazepril is an ACE inhibitor. Both will help your blood vessels relax and lower your blood pressure.
Lovenox (enoxaparin). This medication can prevent and treat blood clots, which lowers your risk of heart attack or stroke. Lovenox affects the clotting proteins in your blood to help your blood flow smoothly. It's an anticoagulant or “blood thinner.” You’ll get this medication in an injection under your skin, usually in your stomach area. You may have a burning feeling where you inject it, an upset stomach, or fever.
Mavik (trandolapril). This drug can treat high blood pressure to prevent heart attacks, strokes, or kidney problems. Mavik can also treat heart failure and boost survival after you have a heart attack. It’s a type of ACE inhibitor. Some of the common side effects are blurred vision, confusion, and problems with breathing.
Monopril (fosinopril). You can use this drug to treat high blood pressure. This will help prevent strokes, heart attacks, and kidney issues. Monopril can also treat heart failure. This drug is an ACE inhibitor. It relaxes your blood vessels to help blood flow easily. You may have a cough, diarrhea, tiredness, or dizziness with this medication.
Nitroglycerin. This drug can help prevent chest pain from coronary artery disease. You can also use nitroglycerin to help ease discomfort during a chest pain attack. Nitroglycerin relaxes your blood vessels and improves the supply of blood and oxygen to your heart. You can use this medication in a spray, capsule, packet, or tablet form. It’s a type of nitrate.
Norvasc (amlodipine). This medication is a calcium channel blocker that can help lower high blood pressure to reduce your risk of strokes or other heart related events. It can also help treat chest pain and coronary artery disease in people without heart failure. With Norvasc, you may have a headache, feel tired, or your heart may race or pound.
Plavix (clopidogrel). Plavix is an antiplatelet drug that keeps your blood flowing well. It also prevents platelets from sticking together and creating dangerous clots. You can use this drug to prevent heart attacks and strokes if you have heart disease, a blood circulation disease, or have had a recent heart attack or stroke. You can also use it with aspirin to treat new or worsening chest pain. It may cause tiredness, headaches, or dizziness.
Prinivil (lisinopril). This drug is an ACE inhibitor that treats high blood pressure to prevent heart attack, stroke, and kidney issues. It can also help treat heart failure and help people live longer after a heart attack. Prinivil will relax your blood vessels to let blood flow better. Its main side effects are coughing, dizziness, and upset stomach.
Toprol XL (metoprolol). This medication is a beta-blocker that can treat high blood pressure and chest pain. It can also help lower your risk of death or hospitalization due to heart failure. Some people also use it after a heart attack to prevent further ones and lengthen their life.
Univasc (moexipril). You can use this medication to treat high blood pressure and prevent heart attacks, stroke, and kidney issues. Univasc is an ACE inhibitor.
Vasotec (enalapril). This drug is an ACE inhibitor and can treat heart failure or high blood pressure. It can also lower your chance of hospitalization if you have heart failure.
Zebeta (bisoprolol). You may use this drug alone or with certain other medications to treat high blood pressure. This can help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney issues. Zebeta is a beta-blocker and works in a similar way to Lopressor (metoprolol).
Zestril (lisinopril). This medication is an ACE inhibitor that treats high blood pressure. It can help prevent heart attack, stroke, and kidney issues. It can also treat heart failure and help people live longer after they have a heart attack.
Tips for Taking Your Heart Disease Medications
- Know the names, dosages, and side effects of your heart medications and what they are used for.
- Always keep a list of the medications with you so that all your doctors know exactly what you are taking.
- Take all heart medications as scheduled, at the same time every day.
- Don’t stop or change medications without first checking with your doctor. Keep on taking a heart drug even if you feel better. Stopping medications suddenly can make your condition worse.
- Develop a routine for taking your heart drugs. Get a pillbox marked with the days of the week and fill it at the beginning of each week. This is an easy way to tell when you’ve taken each day’s medications.
- If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for the next dose, ask your doctor about whether you should skip or make up the missed dose. You should never take two doses to make up for the missed dose; nor should you take an extra dose if you don't feel well.
- Make sure to have your prescriptions filled regularly. If you have questions, write them down and ask the pharmacist. Don't wait until you're completely out of medication before refilling prescriptions.
- Use one pharmacist to fill your prescriptions. That way, you can be sure you don't get medications that interact with each other.
Heart Medication Safety
- Always tell your doctor what other medications you are taking in case there are any interactions.
- Some drugs are not safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant, tell your doctor right away.
- Some of these medicines should be taken specifically with or without food. Some may cause side effects or not work well if you take them with things like grapefruit juice, alcohol, or caffeine. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist how to take your medicine so it’s safe and effective.
- Don't take any over-the-counter medications or herbal therapies until you've talked with your doctor or pharmacist. These drugs can make heart disease symptoms worse or change the effect of prescribed medications. Even common drugs such as antacids, salt substitutes, cough/cold/allergy medications, and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can worsen heart disease symptoms or cause harmful effects when taken with some heart medicines.
- Don't store medications in the bathroom or where they are exposed to light. Moisture and heat can destroy their effectiveness.
- If you're going to have surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist what heart medications you're taking.
- Don't take less heart medication than your doctor prescribes to save money. You must take the full amount to get the full benefit. If you can’t afford your medication, talk with your doctor about ways to reduce the costs.
When You Travel
- Keep heart medications with you when you travel. Don't pack them in luggage that you won’t have with you at all times.
- Keep a separate list of all the medications you're taking, along with dosages and your doctor's phone number, in case you lose your medications.
- If your trip crosses time zones, make sure to adjust so you stay on your dosing schedule.
- If you're taking a long trip, pack an extra week's supply of medications, the phone number of your pharmacy, and your prescriptions' refill numbers in case you need a refill.
If you’re caring for a loved one with heart disease, you may need to remind them when it's time to take their medications or to provide the meds when it's time to take them.