Chest Pain Cause Cardiac Treatment Heart Medication

If you have heart disease, chances are that your physician has prescribed a heart medication for your condition. A number of medications exist to treat heart disease, including:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • beta blockers
  • blood thinners.

Your physician will decide which heart medication is best for you based on your health, lifestyle and medical history.

Heart Medications: ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors, are the current treatment of choice for heart failure according to the American Heart Association. ACE inhibitors deter the progress of this heart condition by causing your blood vessels to expand. In addition, ACE inhibitors will stop your body from making angiotensin, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict.

Though ACE inhibitors have a number of benefits, they do have side effects. Potential side effects of ACE inhibitors include:

  • changes in your ability to taste
  • coughing
  • dizziness due to decreased blood pressure
  • elevated levels of potassium
  • skin rashes.

If you are taking ACE inhibitors and experience any of these side effects, talk to your doctor.

Heart Medications: Vasodilators

Vasodilators help your blood flow more easily through your blood vessels. ACE inhibitors are actually one form of vasodilator. However, since some people cannot take ACE inhibitors, other types of vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, are sometimes prescribed.

Side effects for vasodilators can include:

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • headaches
  • heart palpitations.

Heart Medications: Blood Thinners

Some people who are experiencing heart failure have a tendency to form blood clots. Blood clots, which usually form in the lungs, the legs or the heart, can result in strokes or heart attacks. Blood thinners, which are also called anticoagulants, help prevent clots from forming.

Side effects of blood thinners can include:

  • bleeding gums
  • bruising
  • nosebleeds.

Your doctor will want to monitor your bleeding and bruising incidents in order to determine whether your medication levels need to be adjusted.

Heart Medications: Beta Blockers

If you have heart disease, your heart may try to beat more quickly to offset the fact that your heart is not pumping as effectively as it should. Beta blockers keep your heart beating at a slower rate. Although beta blockers succeed in keeping your heart rate down and lowering your blood pressure, the downside of taking beta blockers is that your blood is not carrying as much oxygen as blood that circulates through a healthy heart.

Side effects of beta blockers include very low blood pressure.

Your physician will probably suggest that you avoid strenuous activities when taking beta blockers. Some activities may cause you to feel sick or nauseated for a day or more because your body cannot supply you with sufficient amounts of oxygen.

One type of beta blocker is COREG®. COREG® heart medication, with a generic name of carvedilol, is also used to treat heart attacks.

Congenital Heart Disease Medication

Congenital heart disease describes heart defects that are present at birth. Some congenital heart defects can be corrected during a person’s youth. In other cases, heart defects can cause a person problems into adulthood.

Problems that can occur in adults with congenital heart disease include:

  • Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, are a common problem for those who have congenital heart disease. Sometimes, no treatment is required. In other cases, your physician may recommend:
    • anti-arrhythmic medications
    • a pacemaker
    • beta blockers
    • blood thinners
  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis, or infection of the decocardium, the inner lining of your heart, is treated with antibiotics in a hospital setting for several weeks. After this initial treatment, patients will likely need to continue taking antibiotics at home for a period of time.

If you are taking any type of heart medication, make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions. Keep in mind that some medications will need to be taken only occasionally, depending on your condition. Others may need to be taken on an ongoing basis.


American Heart Association (n.d.) Medications Commonly Used to Treat Heart Failure. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Web site:

Drug Information Online (n.d.) Coreg. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Web site:

Mayo Clinic (n.d.) Congenital Heart Disease: Do Not Overlook Condition as an Adult. Retrieved on November 15, 2007, from the Web site:

Mayo Clinic (n.d.) Edocarditis Treatment. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Web site:

Mayo Clinic (n.d.) Heart Arrhymias Treatment. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Web site: