Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Can I take a diuretic?

Ask the doctor

Can I take a diuretic?

Q. Over the past few years, I have needed to take hydrochlorothiazide and Lasix together. After I was hospitalized for a serious electrolyte imbalance, my doctors told me never to take these medications again. I recently had my aortic valve replaced, and am now retaining some water. Are there any diuretics I can safely take for this?

A. Hydrochlorothiazide and Lasix (the brand name for furosemide) are both "water pills," medicines that increase the production of urine. Water pills are helpful for high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney failure, or any situation where water builds up in the body. Although there are many kinds of water pills, hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide are two of the most commonly used. They act on the kidneys, which have the important job of filtering your entire blood fluid about 60 times per day.

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