St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Heart failure - medicines

    Most people who have heart failure need to take medicines. Some of these medicines are used to treat your symptoms. Others may help prevent your heart failure from becoming worse and let you live longer.

    How to take your medicines

    You will need to take most of your heart failure medicines every day. Some medicines are taken once a day. Others need to be taken 2 or more times daily. It is very important that you take your medicines at the right time and in the way your doctor has told you.

    Never stop taking your heart medicines without talking to your doctor first. This is also true for other medicines you take, such as drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other serious conditions.

    Your doctor may also tell you to take certain medicines or change your doses when your symptoms get worse. Do not change your medicines or doses without talking to doctor.

    Always tell your doctor before you take any new medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), as well as drugs such as Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis).

    Also tell your doctor before you take any type of herb or supplement.

    ACE inhibitors and ARBs

    ACE inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers) work by opening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. These medicines can:

    • Reduce the work your heart has to do
    • Help your heart muscle pump better
    • Keep your heart failure from getting worse

    They may also prevent or reduce harmful changes to your heart muscle.

    Common side effects of these drugs include:

    • Dry cough
    • Lightheadedness
    • Fatigue
    • Upset stomach
    • Edema
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea

    When you take these medicines, your doctor will order blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working and to measure your potassium levels.

    Beta blockers

    Beta blockers slow your heart rate and decrease the strength with which your heart muscle contracts in the short term. Long term beta blockers help keep your heart failure from becoming worse. They may also help strengthen your heart.

    Common beta blockers used for heart failure include carvedilol (Coreg), bisoprolol (Zebeta), and metoprolol (Toprol).

    Do not abruptly stop taking these drugs. This can increase the risk of angina and even a heart attack. Other side effects include lightheadedness, depression, fatigue, and memory loss.

    Water pills or diuretics

    Diuretics help your body get rid of extra fluid. Some types of diuretics may also help in other ways. These drugs are often called "water pills." There are many brands of diuretics. Some are taken once a day. Others are taken 2 times a day. The most common types are:

    • Thiazides. Chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Hygroton), indapamide (Lozol), hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, HydroDiuril), and metolazone (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
    • Loop diuretics. Bumentanide (Bumex), furosemide (Lasix), and torasemide (Demadex)
    • Potassium-sparing agents. Amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium)

    When you take these medicines, you will need regular blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working and measure your potassium levels.

    Other drugs for heart failure

    Many people with heart disease take either aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix). These drugs help prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries. This can lower your risk of a stroke or heart attack.

    Coumadin (Warfarin) is recommended for patients with heart failure who have a higher risk for blood clots. You will need to have extra blood tests to make sure your dose is correct. You may also need to make changes to your diet.

    Drugs used less commonly for heart failure include:

    • Digoxin to help increase the heart's pumping strength and slow the heart rate.
    • Hydralazine and nitrates to open up arteries and help the heart muscle pump better. These drugs are mainly used by patients who are unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers.
    • Calcium channel blockers to control blood pressure or angina (chest pain) from coronary artery disease (CAD).

    Statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs are used when needed.

    Antiarrhythmic medicines are sometimes used by heart failure patients who have abnormal heart rhythms. One such drug is amiodarone.

    References

    Jessup M, Abraham WT, Casey DE, Feldman AM, Francis GS, Ganiats TG, et al. 2009 focused update: ACCF/AHA Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Heart Failure in Adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines: developed in collaboration with the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. Circulation. 2009 Apr 14;119(14):1977-2016. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

    Mann DL. Management of heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

          Talking to your MD

          Self Care

          Tests for Heart failure - medicines

          Review Date: 7/17/2013

          Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


          Back  |  Top
          About Us
          Contact Us
          History
          Mission
          Locations & Directions
          Quality Reports
          Annual Reports
          Honors & Awards
          Community Health Needs
          Assessment

          Newsroom
          Services
          Brain & Spine
          Cancer
          Heart
          Maternity
          Orthopedics
          Pulmonary
          Sleep Medicine
          Urgent Care
          Women's Services
          All Services
          Patients & Visitors
          Locations & Directions
          Find a Physician
          Tour St. Luke's
          Patient & Visitor Information
          Contact Us
          Payment Options
          Financial Assistance
          Send a Card
          Mammogram Appointments
          Health Tools
          My Personal Health
          mystlukes
          Spirit of Women
          Health Information & Tools
          Clinical Trials
          Health Risk Assessments
          Employer Programs -
          Passport to Wellness

          Classes & Events
          Classes & Events
          Spirit of Women
          Donate & Volunteer
          Giving Opportunities
          Volunteer
          Physicians & Employees
          For Physicians
          Remote Access
          Medical Residency Information
          Pharmacy Residency Information
          Physician CPOE Training
          Careers
          Careers
          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
          Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile