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Medications
Treatments » Medications

Medications

The medications that your doctor prescribes may help lower your blood pressure, increase your blood flow, keep your blood from clotting, or lower your cholesterol. Your doctor will talk to you about these medications and other things you can do to help keep your heart healthy, now and in the future.

The information and feedback you share with your doctor is extremely important. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Remember these 5 important tips:
1. Take your medications exactly as your doctor instructs.
2. Tell your doctor if you have any symptoms of side effects from your medications.
3. Alcohol and certain foods can interfere with your medication, so talk with your doctor.
4. Understand the benefits & side effects of your medications.
5. Keep a list of your medications, including dosage amounts and other instructions.

  • ACE Inhibitors

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    Prescribed for CHF, HTN, and after heart attack to prevent heart damage. ACE stands for "Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme", which causes vessel dilation. This enzyme also lowers retention of salt and water. Relaxed blood vessels with lower salt level will cause blood pressure to fall.

    Side Effects
    Common: A dry cough, which may make it hard to talk.

    Less Common: Diarrhea. Headache. Loss of taste or a taste of stainless steel in your mouth. Loss of appetite. Upset stomach. Skin that is sensitive to sunlight. Feeling very tired. Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting. Fever. Joint pain. Numbness or tingling in hands or feet.

    Rare: Fever and chills. A hoarse voice. Swelling of your face, mouth, hands, or feet. Trouble swallowing or breathing. Severe upset stomach and throwing up. Unusual bruising. Yellow eyes or skin (called jaundice).

  • Aspirin

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    Aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks or ischemic strokes (strokes caused by a blood clot) in certain people. Aspirin also may help people who suspect they are having a heart attack. Both men and women may benefit from aspirin use.

    It is important that you talk to your doctor about whether an aspirin regimen is right for you.

    Side Effects
    For most people, aspirin is safe when used as directed. But for some people aspirin can cause side effects. Some of these side effects, such as bleeding in the stomach or other bleeding, can be serious. This is usually due to long term use of high-dosage aspirin beyond traditional over-the-counter use.

    Long term use of aspirin should be directed and monitored by your doctor.

  • Beta Blocker

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    Prescribed for angina, HTN, CHF, and arrhythmia. Beta Blockers reduce the heart rate and slightly the reduce hearts strength of contraction (fighting angina by reducing hearts need for oxygen); they also lower blood pressure.
    Short for "beta-adrenoreceptor blockers", Beta blockers reduce the effect of adrenaline on cells beta receptors. Beta blockers are divided into selective and non-selective varieties, where "selective" blocks only "Type 1 receptors" and "non-selective" blocks "Type 2 receptors" as well as Type 1. Type 1 receptors effect the heart rate and the strength of heart contractions; Type 2 receptors effect "smooth muscle" tissue, muscle that is not under voluntary control.

    Side Effects
    Common: Drowsiness or fatigue. Cold hands and feet. Weakness or dizziness. Dry mouth, eyes, and skin.

    Less Common: Wheezing, trouble breathing, or shortness of breath. Slow heartbeat. Trouble sleeping or vivid dreams while asleep. Swelling of the hands and feet.

    Rare: Abdominal cramps. Throwing up. Diarrhea. Constipation. Back or joint pain. Skin rash. Sore throat. Depression. Memory loss, confusion, or hallucinations. Impotence.

  • Calcium Channel Blocker

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    Prescribed for HTN, angina, and arrhythmia. Calcium Channel Blockers allow blood to flow more easily through vessels, reducing blood pressure. This is affected by decreasing the rate at which calcium is absorbed into the myocardium and vessel walls, which relaxes vessel walls and encourages blood flow.

    Side Effects
    Common: Feeling tired. Flushing. Swelling of the abdomen, ankles, or feet. Heartburn.

    Less Common: Very fast or very slow heartbeat. Wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. Trouble swallowing. Dizziness. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. Upset stomach. Constipation (especially when taking verapamil).

    Rare: Headache. Fainting. Chest pain. Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). Fever. Rash. Bleeding, swollen, or tender gums. Vivid dreams.

  • Coumadin

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    Prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke. Coumadin is an anticoagulant, also known as a blood thinner. It helps to prevent clot formation within blood vessels, assists in breaking down existing clots, and prevents clots from growing larger.

    Coumadin works by Inhibits the production of proteins called "cofactors" that are produced in the liver. Cofactors are an essential part of the bloods clottitng process; without cofactors blood will not clot.

    Side Effects
    Common: Diarrhea, loss of appetite, unusual hair loss.

    Less Common: Internal bleeding; back, stomach, or chest pain; difficulty breathing; fever or chills; excessive menstrual bleeding; nausea; discolored or painful toes; skin irritation or discoloration; swelling; weight gain; fatigue.

  • Digoxin

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    Prescribed for CHF and arrhythmia, and also to manage the symptoms of other diseases in combination therapy. Digoxin increases the heart muscle's strength, stabilizes heart rhythm, and removes excess water from the body. Manufactured with extracts of the digitalis plant, this medication effects cardiac nerves, which control the heart rate.

    Side Effects
    Usually Digoxin produces no side effects, but if too much is taken it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, unusual tiredness or weakness, slow heartbeat, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, fainting or changes in vision (seeing a yellow, green or white halo around objects).

  • Diuretics

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    Prescribed for CHF, HTN, and edema. Diuretics are also called "water pills" because they reduce water retention in the body and increase urine output, lowering blood pressure.

    Side Effects
    Common: Weakness. Muscle cramps. Skin rash. Increased sensitivity to sunlight (with thiazide diuretics). Throwing up. Diarrhea. Cramps. Dizziness or lightheadedness. Joint pain.

    Less Common: Impotence or decreased sexual desire.

    Rare: Arrhythmia.

  • Plavix

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    Prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Plavix inhibits binding to ADP receptors and inhibits activation of the glycoprotein GPIIb/IIIa complex. This in turn inhibits platelet binding, which discourages the formation of clots. Less clotting increases blood flow, decreasing the likelihood of heart attack or stroke.

    Side Effects
    Less Common: Red or purple spots on the skin.

    Rare: Black, tarry stools, blood from vomiting, blood in urine or stools, nosebleed, skin rash or itching (hives), stomach pain, unusual bleeding or bruising, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, sudden weakness, diarrhea, indigestion, mild upset stomach.

  • Viagra

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    Prescribed for Erectile Dysfunction. Viagra inhibits phosphodiesterase type (PDE5), allowing smooth muscle in the penis to remain relaxed. When smooth muscle relaxes, more blood may flow into the penis, facilitating erection.

    Side Effects
    Common: Headache, facial flushing, and upset stomach.

    Less Common: Bluish or blurred vision or sensitivity to light, erection lasting more than 4 hours.