There are many drugs prescribed for heart disease. It’s important for patients with heart disease and those who care for them to understand the meds, follow the labels, and recognize possible side effects. Heart medicines come in many shapes and sizes. The most common are tablets, capsules, aerosol spray and self-adhesive patches.
The ones most people with heart disease are given by their doctor include:
• Antiplatelet therapy: Antiplatelets are a group of medicines that stop blood cells (called platelets) from sticking together and forming a blood clot. Aspirin is the most common type of this therapy. Clopidogrel, Prasugel and Ticagrelor are also used as an antiplatelet medicine.
• ACE inhibitors: These widen arteries to lower your blood pressure and make it easier for your heart to pump blood. They also block some of the unpleasant symptoms that can happen with heart failure.
• Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): These are used to lower blood pressure for people with heart failure. They help keep your blood vessels as wide as possible so blood can flow through your body more easily. They also lessen salt and fluid build-up in your body.
• Beta-blockers: They block the effects of adrenaline. This helps your heart work better. These meds also drop production of harmful substances your body makes in response to heart failure. They cause your heart to beat slower and with less force. Those both lower your blood pressure.
• Calcium channel blockers: These treat chest pain and high blood pressure. They relax blood vessels and increase blood and oxygen to your heart.
• Diuretics: You may know these as water pills. They help your kidneys get rid of unneeded water and salt from your tissues and bloodstream. That makes it easier for your heart to pump. They treat high blood pressure and ease swelling and water build-up caused by some medical problems, including heart failure. They also help make breathing easier.
• Aldosterone inhibitors: Eplerenone and spironolactone are part of a class of medicine called diuretics. They can ease the swelling and water build-up heart disease can cause. They help the kidneys send unneeded water and salt from your tissues and blood into your urine to be released.
• Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins): Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and make hormones. But inflammation may force cholesterol to build up in the walls of your arteries. That build-up increases your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Statins are a class of drugs often prescribed by doctors to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. By lowering the levels, they help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Studies show that, in certain people, statins reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by about 25% to 35%. Studies also show that statins can reduce the chances of recurrent strokes or heart attacks by about 40%.
• Novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs): are a new class of anticoagulant drug. They can be used in the prevention of stroke for people with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. They can also be used in the management of venous thromboembolism, which is when a blood clot forms in a vein. Non-valvular AF is the type of AF that most people in the UK have and, like warfarin, NOACs can help to prevent clots from forming in the first place and help protect you from certain types of stroke.