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Medications to help your heart

Your health care provider will likely prescribe medications for heart failure and any underlying health problems you have.  Certain medications help you live longer by improving the way your heart pumps over time.  Others are taken to relieve symptoms.  Your health care provider will work to find the combination of medicines that works best for you.

Types of Medications

What They Do

ACE Inhibitor Lowers blood pressure and decreases strain on the heart.  This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves blood flow.
Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB) Lowers blood pressure and decreases strain on the heart.  This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves blood flow.  May be prescribed instead of an ACE Inhibitor.
Beta-Blocker Lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate by altering hormones (body chemicals) damaging the heart.  May strengthen the heart's pumping action over time.
Diuretic Helps rid the body of excess water, which reduces swelling and may improve breathing.   Less fluid to pump means the heart doesn't have to work so hard.  Also called "water pills".
Aldosterone Antagonist Alters hormones damaging the heart, decreases strain on the heart.  Given for advanced heart failure.
Hydralazine and Nitrate Lowers blood pressure and decreases how hard the heart has to work.  Two separate medications used together.  May come in one "combination" pill.
Digoxin Slows heart rate, helps pump more blood with each beat.  More oxygen-rich blood travels to the body.


Medications for related conditions
Controlling other heart problems keep heart failure under control too.  Depending on other heart problems you have, medications may be prescribed to:

  • Lower blood pressure (antihypertensives).
  • Lower cholesterol levels (statins).
  • Prevent blood clots (anticoagulants or aspirin).
  • Keep the heartbeat steady (antiarrhythmics).

Being smart about alternatives
You may have heard herbs and supplements help with heart failure symptoms.  These claims are being studied, but have not been medically proven or FDA approved.  Keep in mind that "natural" doesn't mean safe.  Herbs, extracts and other supplements can interact with prescribed medications.  And some over-the-counter products can cause organ damage.  If you want to try an alternative treatment, talk with your health care provider first.

Keep track of your medications. 

Click here to learn more about cardiac services at Baptist Health Corbin.