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Common heart disease drugs

Treatment for heart disease will depend on a person's individual symptoms and condition.

Common medication prescribed for heart disease includes:

ACE inhibitors: ACE inhibitors are a type of medication that dilate (widen) the blood vessels to improve blood flow, which helps decrease the amount of work the heart has to do. These drugs block the effect of an enzyme and in doing so prevent the production of a hormone called angiotensin II that narrows blood vessels.

Aldosterone inhibitor: Spironolactone is a potassium-sparing diuretic. It is sometimes prescribed to reduce the swelling and water build-up caused by heart failure. Diuretics cause the kidneys to eliminate unneeded water and salt from the tissues and blood into the urine.

Spironolactone may be prescribed in low doses to prevent heart failure symptoms from becoming worse. Spironolactone protects the heart by blocking a chemical (aldosterone) in the body that causes salt and fluid build-up. This medication is used to treat patients with certain types of severe heart failure.

Angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARBs): ARBs are used to decrease blood pressure. ARBs decrease certain chemicals that narrow the blood vessels so blood can flow more easily through your body. They also decrease certain chemicals that cause salt and fluid build-up in the body.

Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers block the effects of adrenaline (epinephrine), which can improve the heart's ability to perform.

Calcium channel blockers: Calcium channel blockers affect the movement of calcium in the cells of the heart and blood vessels. As a result, the drugs relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, while reducing its workload.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs: Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. But too much of it in your bloodstream can lead to coronary artery disease. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from dietary sources -- animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol levels. These people may need drug therapy in addition to diet to bring their cholesterol down to a safe level.

Digoxin: Digoxin helps an injured or weakened heart work efficiently and send blood through the body. It strengthens the force of the heart muscle's contractions and may improve blood circulation.

Digoxin is one of four primary medications used to treat the symptoms of heart failure. It may also be prescribed if the patient has atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat rhythm) to help slow down the heart rate.

Diuretics: Diuretics, commonly known as 'water tablets', cause the kidneys to eliminate unneeded water and salt from the tissues and bloodstream into the urine. Eliminating excess fluid makes it easier for your heart to pump. It is used to treat high blood pressure and reduce the swelling and water build-up caused by various medical problems, including heart failure. It also helps make breathing easier.

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