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What drugs are used to treat heart disease?

Dean G. Karalis, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Drugs used to treat heart disease fall into 2 categories.  Those that treat the heart disease once it occurs and those that treat the risk factors that can prevent a person from developing heart disease in the first place.  Common drugs used to treat patients with coronary artery disease include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, aspirin and other anti-platelet drugs.  Anti-arrhythmic drugs are used to treat an irregular heartbeat while beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, and diuretics are used to treat heart failure.  Common drugs used to prevent heart disease include lipid-lowering drugs such as statins, blood pressure lowering drugs and aspirin.
Farzanna S. Haffizulla, MD
Internal Medicine

When a patient has heart disease, medications that allow for further risk factor reduction are important. All heart disease patients should adhere to a diet that is rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and low in simple carbohydrates. Regular exercise and the cessation of smoking will also work synergistically with any medication regimens prescribed. The following conditions increase the risk for heart attack and stroke and can be treated as follows:

  1. Hyperlipidemia: Very high "bad cholesterol" such as LDL and triglycerides and a low "good cholesterol" such as HDL can be modified by using "statin" drugs either alone or combined with other therapies such as "fenofibrates." The goal here is to lower triglycerides and LDL and increase HDL
  2. Hypertension: If a patient has had a heart attack they should be considered for therapy with agents known as "ace inhibitors"  and/or "beta-blockers."
  3. Diabetes: control of blood sugars are vital to lowering cardiovascular risk. Several therapies exist and include classes of drugs divided into oral agents versus injectable drugs such as insulin.
  4. Daily aspirin or if intolerant to aspirin, clopidogrel to decrease the chances of clot formation in the arteries of the heart are also cornerstone therapies

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.