Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to control certain aspects of your heart condition. Some prescriptions are designed to open the arteries, others to regulate your heart's rhythm, and still others to prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots.
Tips for Taking Your Heart Medication
It is important to always know which medications you are taking and to take them exactly as prescribed. Here are a few more tips you may find useful:
- Know the names of all your medications, how they work, when and how to take them, and what the possible side effects are.
- Always keep a list of your medications with you.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and get back on your regular schedule. Do not take two doses to make up for the missed dose.
- Stopping your medications suddenly can make your condition worse. Even if you start feeling better, continue to take your medications as prescribed until your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Refill when you have one or two weeks of medication left. If you are going on an extended vacation, make sure you have enough to last the entire trip.
- If you experience any unexpected side effects, call your doctor immediately.
Types of Heart Medication
- Antiarrhythmic medications work to regulate heart rhythm.
- Antiplatelets/anticoagulants thin the blood to help prevent clots from forming.
- Beta-blockers slow the heart down so that it needs less oxygen and relax blood vessels so that the blood moves more smoothly.
- Calcium channel blockers (calcium antagonists) open the coronary arteries and lower blood pressure; some may also slow the heart rate.
- CNS (central nervous system)-acting medications work through the nervous system to relax the muscles in the arterial walls, indirectly regulating blood pressure.
- Digitalis medicines strengthen the heart's pumping action and slow down certain types of irregular heartbeats.
- Diuretics ("water pills") get rid of excess water and sodium, which can raise blood pressure and cause swelling.
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) block the production of substances that narrow the arteries, delay the progression of heart failure and reduce blood pressure.
- Lipid-lowering therapy decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) which can cause heart attacks, stroke, and blood vessel disease.
For more information about heart medication, including a list of the specific medications in each category, download the Methodist resource Your Heart Matters: A Guide for Heart-Healthy Living (PDF).
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For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.