Medications for Heart Disease

If you already have symptoms of heart disease, any one or combination of the following medications may be prescribed for you. It is important that you take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors: These prevent the production of a chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow. As a result, blood pressure drops and the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood.

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB): These medications work like the ACE inhibitors and may have the same side effects.

Aldosterone (Antagonist): This medication helps the body to get rid of excess salt and water. It also blocks aldosterone, a chemical produced by the body that has the potential of damaging the heart.

Beta Blockers: These slow the heart rate, thus allowing a more complete filling of the left ventricle. They may also widen blood vessels.

Digitalis: This increases the force of the heart's contractions. It also slows certain fast heart rhythms. As a result, the heart beats less frequently, but more effectively and more blood is pumped into the arteries.

Diuretics: These decrease the body's retention of water. Diuretics are commonly prescribed to reduce high blood pressure. Diuretics come in many types with different periods of effectiveness.

Hydralazine: This medication widens blood vessels, easing blood flow.

Nitrates: These medications are used mostly for chest pain, but also may help diminish heart failure symptoms. They relax smooth muscles and widen blood vessels. They act to lower primarily systolic blood pressure.

Potassium: This mineral helps control how your heart works. Potassium levels may fall when you take diuretics. Doctors will usually order potassium tests for a patient on diuretics. You may raise your potassium level by eating bananas and apricots.

Statins: These medications help the body by lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising the HDL (good cholesterol).