Many medical conditions can impact the health of your heart. These conditions may be treated with strict diet and exercise, through surgical techniques, and frequently, through the use of medications. In order to control this fast-growing problem, physicians have a wide range of medications available to prescribe. Sometimes a single drug is all that is necessary, but more often, a combination of drugs is used to achieve optimal therapeutic results.
Ken Hammond, pharmacist and Community Cares Rx CEO, talks about the different types of heart medications prescribed for different heart conditions.
Rapid Heart Rates
“A rapid heart rate may be a sign the heart is not functioning efficiently. If diagnosed, a class of drugs called ‘beta blockers’ are often used to regulate the heart rate. These drugs help slow the heart rate, allowing it to pump more efficiently. Some of the more commonly prescribed drugs in this class are Carvedilol (Coreg) and Metoprolol (Lopressor). This class of drugs has been used for decades, and come in a variety of strengths and dosage forms — and most are available generically at lower cost.”
“Another condition impacting heart rhythms is called Atrial Fibrillation, which is frequently referred to as AFib. AFib is a rapid and irregular heart rate which often exhibits no symptoms although fainting, lightheadedness and even chest pain may occur. It is a serious condition, which, left untreated can result in stroke, dementia, or heart failure.”
“The greatest risk from AFib is the formation of blood clots. Physicians will generally use a combination of medications to maximize control, often using anti-arrhythmic drugs like verapamil and diltiazem. These drugs are in a class of drugs called calcium channel blockers.”
“In addition, blood thinners or anticoagulants will be prescribed to further reduce the risk of clots. Aspirin may be the initial choice, but newer medications like Xarelto or Eliquis are now commonly prescribed. These anticoagulants slow the body’s clotting process, lowering the chances of clot formation.”
Talk to Your Doctor
Like all medications, these drugs have potential side effects. Physicians may need to try a variety of combinations to find the one that works best for an individual. Most of these drugs are available in once-daily dosage forms, which make them easier to remember to take.
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