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.

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
At Houston Methodist, specialists work with patients to ensure the best medication regimen. Several types of heart medication exist:
  • Antiarrhythmic medications regulate the heart’s rhythm.
  • Antiplatelets/anticoagulants thin the blood to help prevent clots from forming.
  • Beta blockers slow the heart down so it requires less oxygen and relaxes blood vessels so 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 (also known as water pills) get rid of excess water and sodium, which can raise blood pressure and cause swelling (edema).
  • 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.

Other Heart Treatments
Many treatment options are available at Houston Methodist for patients with concerns about their heart health.

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