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Heart Disease - Glossary Of Cardiac Medication

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Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors improve survival with congestive heart failure and ischemic heart disease, reduce complications and incidence of diabetes, and lower blood pressure. They may decrease kidney function, increase potassium levels, and cause a dry cough. Also present the rare risk of angioedema. Angiotensin receptor blockers are useful to lower blood pressure and for congestive heart failure with no cough. However, they may cause renal failure or elevated potassium levels.

Aspirin is a blood thinner that reduces death from heart attacks and angina and reduces the chance of strokes. It does present a very small increased risk of bleeding and ulcer irritation may occur.

Beta blockers improve survival following heart attacks with congestive heart failure and with hypertension, lower blood pressure, have antiarrhythmic benefits, and also improve heart function. Side effects include possible fatigue, depression, erectile dysfunction, and bradycardia. Beta blockers are contraindicated in asthmatics. Calcium channel blockers are used to reduce blood pressure and help with angina. May be associated with constipation or reflux. Constipation may be a bigger problem with older patients, especially if immobility is present. Edema is another possible problem associated with these drugs.

Clopedigrol is a blood thinner used to reduce heart attack or stroke and may be used with or instead of aspirin.

Digoxin is used in the treatment of heart failure and reduces symptoms and hospitalizations. Adverse effects include nausea, GI upset, and bradycardia.

Diuretics are useful for lowering blood pressure and treating symptoms of congestive heart failure. May be associated with postural hypotension. Also can cause electrolyte abnormalities, including low potassium. May increase uric acid and precipitate gouty attacks.

Nitroglycerin is used to treat symptoms of angina. It may cause headaches, but tolerance develops.

Spironolactone is used to treat severe congestive heart failure, but may increase potassium and decrease renal function. It also may cause gynecomastia and increased hair growth.

Statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are useful in reducing cholesterol and decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Very rare problems with liver abnormalities or muscle pain sometimes occur.

Warfarin is used to prevent strokes with valvular heart disease and with atrial fibrillation. Negative effects include the increased risk of bleeding.

PAUL MACDONALD

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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