In the United States, heart disease is the result of one out of four deaths.
A few examples of heart conditions are coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, and myocardial infarction.
Medicines/drugs or surgery could be used to treat heart disease.
Ways to prevent heart disease would be healthy-eating habits, regular exercise, avoid smoking, alcohol and lifestyle modifications.
As we know that heart disease/conditions are important to be treated to avoid any life-threatening conditions/diseases.
As mentioned before, it is important to focus on lifestyle modifications that help in the improvement of the individual’s risk factors which is a major area for treatment. Sometimes along with the lifestyle changes, there would be two-major ways of treating heart conditions. An individual can initially treat heart conditions by using medicines/drugs. If that is not showing any required outcomes, surgery options could be used to treat the condition.
Being a cardiac patient, it is important to know about every medication, its role, functions, side-effects, and safety. When the drugs are used properly and as per the prescription, they help increase the quantity and quality of life.
In this section, the treatment for heart disease is explained and the ways they help in the protection of heart health.
Medicines/Drugs helps in keeping the heart symptoms in control and prevention and treatment of heart diseases. All the drugs/medicines are safe but the physician, the nurse would select that one which is safe and potent for the condition. It is also important for individuals taking the heart medications to know the medicines, read the labels and understand the side-effects for the same.
One of the most common medications given by the doctor/physician includes:
ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin Converting Enzymes):
It helps in avoiding the narrowing of the blood vessels by not allowing the body to generate a chemical. These drugs help treat hypertension and damage to the muscles of the heart. This helps decrease the danger of a heart attack or heart failure in the future. It also helps avoid damage to the kidney in a few individuals suffering from diabetes. Common drugs are as follows: Captopril (Capoten), Enalapril (Vasotec), Fosinopril (Monopril), Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), Ramipril (Altace) and more.
These drugs are sometimes referred to as blood thinners, even if they do not allow thinning of the blood flow. It reduces the clotting of the blood, resulting in avoiding clots from building in the arteries and clogging the flow of blood. These types of drugs are not able to dissolve the clot which is already set-up, their role is to avoid the clots to become big and leading to several life-threatening conditions.
These medicines avoid the platelets i.e. blood particles to form a cluster and forming a dangerous clot. These drugs are given to the individuals suffering from a heart attack or angina (chest pain) or after angioplasty to those who suffer from chest pain. Aspirin is a sort of medicine used as an anti-platelets. These medicines came into discovery in the year 1960 for the benefit of Heart conditions. The dosage for aspirin which is a standard form of 81 mg i.e. a baby aspirin (Note: Important to take the medicines as prescribed by the doctor). This drug is to be taken only if a person is suffering from heart conditions but not for individuals who are having risk factors.
This drug is also used to avoid clots. This medicine is termed as “super-aspirin.” This is effective in avoiding the clumping of platelets. This drug is majorly used along with aspirin. For individuals with stents, the mix of aspirin and clopidogrel is used to avoid clotting. Also used many times for individuals with “worsening angina.”
This is one of the stronger anti-clotting drugs than aspirin and clopidogrel. This drug also helps in thinning of the blood. This helps avoid the formation of clots in the blood for individuals who have had atrial fibrillation, artificial heart valves and blood clots in the vein of the legs. This medicine interferes with the diet and medications, therefore needs to be taken under the proper guidance of the doctor.
It is a drug that helps to slow down the rate/speed of heart and results in beating with slow force. This stops the functioning of adrenaline, which is active when under stress. This is used for the treatment of hypertension and arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) and to avoid repetition of the heart attack. They also help in delaying or preventing angina development (chest pain). The dose of this medicine is changed for the appropriate result and the physician will check for dizzy feeling (decrease rate/speed of heart), kidney or liver issues.
Calcium Channel Blockers:
It helps in the relaxation of the blood vessels. It interferes with the motion of calcium into the heart cells and blood vessels. This helps in the treatment of hypertension, chest pain (angina) and dysrhythmias.
Drugs that lower cholesterol:
They are used to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” in the blood. They also at times help to reduce the levels of Triglycerides and increases HDL Cholesterol i.e. “good cholesterol.” Some of the drugs used are statins, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, niacin, and cholesterol-absorption inhibitors. They work differently, by either affecting the liver, intestine and some avoid the cholesterol to form and circulating the blood.
Statins were initiated in the year 1987. And at present, the physician has seven distinct drugs to be chosen from as per the needs of the patient. This helps to reduce bad cholesterol or “LDL Cholesterol” by approximately 20 to 60% and helps decrease inflammation. Statins should also be taken by individuals who are having high LDL Cholesterol but not heart conditions.
This helps in the heart to contract hard. This medicine is used when the pumping of the heart is not powerful by its self. It also helps to reduce the rhythm of the heart which is at a faster rate.
These are water pills. These medicines or drugs help helps control blood pressure and reduces the build-up of fluids/water in the body. These medicines help avoid stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. If someone is already suffering from heart failure, diuretics help decrease the build-up of fluids/water in the lungs and swelling of feet and ankles. This medicine also helps to decrease the workload of the heart. Commonly used ones are furosemide (Lasix), Bumetanide (Bumex), Torsemide (Demadex), Chlorothiazide (Diuril) and more.
These are also termed as Vasodilators. It helps in the relaxation of the blood vessels and treatment for chest pain. When nitrates are taken in a separate form, it helps to avoid any pain from angina. A major type of Nitrate used for angina is “Nitroglycerin.”
There are some medicines which are termed as a blood thinner, they help in thinning the blood and avoiding any kind of clot formation. Three kinds of blood thinners such as anti-coagulants like warfarin or heparin, antiplatelet medicines like aspirin and Fibrinolytics such as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). Each of these drugs has a particular function to avoid clots.
Together these medicines are life-savers by avoiding heart conditions and strokes. Important to know the dose of medicines and to follow the instructions of the physician. Important to work in combination with the physician to get better and safe results.
Guidelines for taking medicines:
Form a routine for taking the medications. Take them the same way as mentioned/prescribed by the doctor.
One can also use a box for keeping the pills by marking the days of the week. You can do this with the help/guidance of the physician/nurse/pharmacist/relative.
It is important to continue the medicines for a long-term basis to avoid any heart-related complications. The medicines cannot be stopped without asking the doctor. Even if people get a good feeling, do not avoid taking medicines.
There could be side-effects caused due to heart medicines. If you feel dizzy as a side-effect, while doing any activities, try to be more gradual or slow. Do inform the doctor if the dizzy feeling continues.
Do not decrease the quantity/dosage of medicines to save money. It would be effective only if taken in complete quantity. The individual could discuss with the physician to decrease the cost of the drugs.
Do inform the physician if you are taking any other medications like a multi-vitamin or herbs as that might affect the others.
Important to always take along the list of medications with you while traveling to avoid any mistakes.
Important to keep the medicines in some amount of stock so no issues in the future. In-case of any queries or doubts do consult the doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Understanding the medications
It should be of utmost importance for you to know about the medicines i.e. the reason for taking it, the mechanism and benefits for it. Talk to the physician about:
- The potential mechanism, benefits, and risks for medications.
- How to take the drugs safely
- Side-effects and how to over-come if any side-effects occur
- The drug-drug interaction if taking any other medicine
- A question always in mind: Does the medicine cause any side-effects
- It is not that everybody sees some side-effects and it could be that you might see no side-effects at all. Some drugs might result in side-effects, these could be temporary and go away in some time.
- Important to talk to the doctor or general physician about the same. They can accordingly check and change or modify the dosage or give a new medicine to avoid any side-effects if facing.
How are the medicines for heart taken?
They come in various shapes and sizes:
- Capsules or tablets: These are either swallowed or mixed in water. A few times have to keep the drug under the tongue for it to be swallowed.
- Aerosol Spray: The medicine is to be sprayed below the tongues.
- Self-Adhesive Patch: There is a medicine on a patch, which is put below the skin and it gets absorbed over a duration of time.
- Various manufacturers have various names and packaging of the medications. In-case of any queries or doubts, do confirm with the physician or pharmacist.
When is it required to take the medications?
Majorly drugs are to be taken daily. Some medicines are taken only if the individual experiences any sort of chest pain or angina. Important to do as prescribed by the doctors.
In case of a miss in the dose, important to consume as early as possible once u remember. In-case it is time for the next dose, miss the previous dose and take the medicines of the next scheduled time. Avoid taking a dose twice.
Storage of the medicines
- Storage should be in a cool and dry area.
- Avoid keeping the medications near the window exposed to sunlight or open in the car.
- Always avoid keeping the medications away from children and pets.
- To protect the medicines, keep the medications in its original package.
- Avoid taking the drugs with the change in color, consistency or smell. Avoid taking any medications which have expired or old or left-over to avoid any further complications.
Medicine and Salt Intake
Few medicines do contain Sodium which is also present in the salt. Excess intake of Sodium in the diet also tends to increase the blood pressure, adds pressure on the heart and causes cardiovascular conditions.
Have a conversation with your doctor
Medicines for heart diseases can help in various forms. To get more ideas about the medicines, do have a word with your physician. They help in the plan for treatment for the heart conditions, to help you know better. Important to have a conversation with the doctor about the treatment or any conditions like:
- Do medicines help in relieving the symptoms of heart ailments?
- Does it help in the reduction of death from heart issues?
- Do my medicines have any interaction with the heart condition drugs?
- What lifestyle modifications should I include for heart conditions?
- Do heart conditions have a risk of other health issues?