Treating heart disease is important to prevent life threatening complications. Treatment involves- lifestyle changes and medications, if these don’t work, one may be recommended surgery.
There are different drugs prescribed for different heart diseases. It is important for us to have an idea about how these drugs help patients with heart disease. Let us learn about the drug groups one by one:
- Beta blockers: These drugs inhibit the action of the hormone- adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your heart to beat stronger and faster, in other words, it increases the workload on heart. By blocking the action of this hormone, the beta blockers cause the heart to beat with less force and at a slower pace. They also reduce the blood pressure. Eg: Atenolol, Carvedilol.
- Nitrates: These are the drugs which help in widening the coronary arteries and improve blood flow through them. Nitrates are useful in cases of angina or chest pain due to decreased blood supply to the heart muscles.
- Calcium channel blockers: These drugs help to relax the blood vessel walls and thereby increase the blood flow to the heart muscles. They are helpful to treat chest pain and decrease blood pressure. Eg: Felodipine, Nifedipine, amlodipine.
- ACE inhibitors: These drugs also lower blood pressure by widening the arteries. Eg:Captopril, enalapril.
- Aldosterone inhibitors: Heart dysfunction can cause swelling in the extremities. Aldosterone inhibitors help to remove the fluid build-up and pass this excess fluid in urine. Eg: like eplerenone, spironolactone.
- Angiotensin receptor blockers: These medications help to decrease blood pressure and prevent salt and water retenstion in the body. This helps to reduce the workload on heart. Eg: candesartan, irbesartan, valsartan.
- Cholesterol lowing drugs: Excess cholesterol in blood predisposes coronary artery disease (CAD). Cholesterol lowering drugs like statin help to lower the risk of CAD. Eg: statins, bile acid sequestrants
- Digoxin: This medication is required when a person has weak, irregular heart-beats. In such conditions, the strength of the heart contraction is not sufficient to pump out sufficient blood and meet the nutrition and oxygen needs of the body. Digoxin helps to improve the strength of heart contraction and improves blood circulation.
- Diuretics: These medications help to remove excess salt and water from the tissues and bloodstream and pass them in urine. These are usually recommended for high blood pressure and swelling caused by conditions such as heart failure. Diuretics can also cause loss of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, which in turn can cause abnormal heart rhythm. You might be given potassium and magnesium supplements when you are prescribed diuretics.
Examples of diuretics: Bumetanide, Furosemide, Torsemide
- Anticoagulants: In certain conditions, there is increased risk of clot formation in the circulating blood. These clots may obstruct major blood vessels which may cause life threatening conditions such as heart attacks and stroke. Anticoagulants prevent clots from forming. Eg: Warfarin, Heparin