If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you’re not alone. Nearly half of all American adults are affected by cardiovascular disease. So, it’s important to make every effort to improve your heart health and minimize your risk of developing dangerous complications.
Lifestyle changes that keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check can help, but for some people, this won’t be enough. In these cases, your doctor may want to prescribe medications to treat your heart disease.
Even though these medications have the same general goal, their level of effectiveness can be different for different people. Learn about the various types of medications that are frequently prescribed so you and your doctor can work together to decide on the best treatment.
Medications Used for Heart Disease Treatment
There are dozens of different heart disease medications, and many of them help reduce the damage heart disease causes in different ways. Some focus on improving blood flow, while others target factors like cholesterol and plaque buildup.
Metoprolol is a type of medication known as a beta blocker. This means it lowers your blood pressure by reducing the speed and force of your heartbeats. They can also help widen your veins and arteries, which may have become narrowed, thus facilitating improved circulation.
Metoprolol is also used to reduce the overall risk of heart failure. People with heart disease who take metoprolol have a higher survival rate from a heart attack.
Common side effects include dizziness, fatigue, stomach pain, and nausea.
Statins are a type of drug that can reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by your liver. This helps regulate your cholesterol levels, which in turn, lowers your risk of developing heart disease or further damaging your heart.
Too much bad cholesterol can create plaque deposits in your arteries, limiting blood flow throughout your body. By reducing the amount of harmful cholesterol, you can minimize your risk of having a heart attack or stroke caused by heart disease and blocked arteries.
Commonly prescribed statins include Atorvastatin, Lovastatin, Rosuvastatin, Pravastatin, and Simvastatin.
Blood thinners are also called anticoagulants because they prevent coagulation, or clotting, in your blood. Clots can cause arterial blockages that make heart attacks or strokes more likely, so they’re frequently prescribed to people with heart disease.
Note that blood thinners can be dangerous if you exceed your prescribed dosage. If you sustain an injury such as a cut or laceration, your blood won’t be able to clot and stop the bleeding like usual. This means that applying pressure to the area and seeking medical attention for continued bleeding will be necessary.
Practice extra caution and be careful to avoid combining blood thinners with any medication that can interact negatively with them. Always read labels to know what medications to avoid with blood thinners.
Plavix, also known as Clopidogrel, is a type of blood thinner that can reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
You may experience side effects such as increased bleeding, bruising, and itching.
Diltiazem functions as a type of antihypertensive drug known as a calcium channel blocker.
Calcium channel blockers lower your blood pressure by inhibiting the movement of calcium into your heart and artery cells. Diltiazem is commonly used in the treatment of the arrhythmia atrial fibrillation.
Talk to Your Doctor About Heart Disease
For each of the medications above, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. This means you will need to schedule follow-up appointments at least once a year to renew your prescription and perform any necessary tests to monitor your heart disease.
Always follow all instructions when taking any medication. Read the label and keep an eye out for any side effects that could potentially be dangerous. Talk to your doctor if you feel lightheaded, frequently nauseous, or extremely fatigued, and always get physician approval before you stop taking any heart disease medication.
Medications do their part to prevent or treat heart disease, but you can’t rely on medication alone. Instead, you will have to make lifestyle changes like eating right, maintaining ideal body weight, and getting enough exercise each day to support your heart health.
If you use these methods alongside any necessary medications, you’ll greatly increase their effectiveness.