When you are being treated for heart failure, medications can help your heart work better, but they can only do their job if you take them exactly as directed.
Why Take Your Medications?
- They help you feel better, which means you can do more of the things you enjoy.
- They help your heart work better.
- They can help you stay out of the hospital.
Know Your Medications
It is important to understand which medications you are taking and how they work.
- ACE inhibitors lower blood pressure and decrease strain on the heart. Angiotensin receptor blockers, which are prescribed for some patients instead of ACE inhibitors, have similar effects.
- Beta-blockers help lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate, which lessens the work your heart has to do. Beta-blockers may also improve the heart's pumping ability over time.
- Diuretics, sometimes called "water pills," prevent swelling by helping your body get rid of excess water. Having less fluid to pump means your heart does not have to work as hard. Some diuretics make your body lose a mineral called potassium, so your doctor will tell you if you need to take supplements or start eating more potassium-rich foods.
- Digoxin helps strengthen your heart so that it pumps more blood with each beat.
- Aldosterone antagonists alter hormones in a way that decreases strain on the heart.
- Hydralazine and nitrates are two separate medications used together to lower blood pressure and decrease how hard the heart has to pump.
Tips for Taking Your Medication
- Take all medications exactly as directed. Follow the instructions on the label.
- Take your medication at the same time(s) each day.
- If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is almost time for your next dose. If so, just take the next scheduled dose; do not take a double dose.
- Never change the dosage or stop taking a medication unless your doctor tells you to.
Learn more about what to do after you are discharged:
- Coping With Heart Failure
- Tracking Your Weight
- Watching for Warning Signs
- Diet, Activity and Other Lifestyle Factors
- When to Call Your Doctor
For more information about heart failure treatment at the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-DEBAKEY (713-332-2539) or complete our online contact us form.