Heart Medications

Given the many conditions that affect the heart, it's no surprise that hundreds of medications have been developed to treat heart disease and related conditions. Medications are available to:

·       lower cholesterol

·       lower blood pressure

·       slow the heart rate

·       stop abnormal heart rhythms

·       improve the force of heart contractions

·       improve circulation in the coronary arteries (nitrates and other anti-angina medications)

·       prevent blood from clotting (anticoagulants (also known as blood thinners) and antiplatelet agents)

·       break apart clots that have formed in an artery or vein (thrombolytics, also known as clot busters)

·       remove excess water from the body (diuretics, also known as water pills)

The development of these medications have helped dramatically decrease death rates from cardiovascular disease in the United States and other developed countries.

Heart Medications Articles

For "bad" cholesterol, lower is better; dual drug therapy may help

High cholesterol, in particular high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol, is a key cause of heart disease. A large clinical trial called IMPROVE-IT set out in 2005 to answer two key questions about LDL: The results of IMPROVE-IT were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter, talked about the significance of the IMPROVE-IT findings with Dr. Christopher P. Cannon, the trial's lead investigator, and Dr. John A. Jarcho, an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. More »

Gain more weight, get more GERD

A study in Norway found that weight gain was directly tied to experiencing new chronic heartburn symptoms. Losing weight is the long-term solution to heartburn, though acid-reducing medication soothes symptoms in the short run. More »

Ask the doctor: What is pericarditis?

Pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest. Ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs can help, and the condition usually resolves within two weeks. (Locked) More »

New thinking about beta blockers

For people with high blood pressure, beta blockers are no longer a first line of defense. Research has shown that other medications are more effective at reducing blood pressure—particularly angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium-channel blockers, and diuretics. However, beta blockers are still commonly prescribed to people who’ve had a heart attack, and to people with heart failure or an irregular heartbeat. Beta blocker use may result in side effects such as fatigue and erectile dysfunction. (Locked) More »

Dizzy spells when you stand up: When should you worry?

Orthostatic hypotension is a drop in blood pressure when standing up from a sitting or lying position. With aging, the body may be less able to quickly compensate for such drops in blood pressure. Medications and dehydration can contribute. For mild cases, adjusting medications, drinking enough water, and rising slowly can solve the problem. If it ever leads to loss of consciousness or a fall, it can be dangerous. In severe cases, medication may be necessary. (Locked) More »