YOU AND YOUR MEDICATIONS
Medications for Cardiovascular Disease:

ACE Inhibitors
ACE stands for Angiotensin Converting Enzyme. This enzyme constricts or narrows blood vessels causing blood vessels to narrow, raising blood pressure. The ACE inhibitor prevents this constriction, blood vessels are relaxed, lowering your blood pressure and allowing more oxygen rich blood to reach your heart.
 Examples of ACE inhibitors are: Captopril, Enalapril, Vasotec, Istopril, Lisinopril, and Zestoril.

Beta-blockers

 

Beta-blockers stop certain cells in the body from being stimulated by hormones such as adrenaline. Adrenaline usually makes the heart beat quicker and more forceful, so a beta-blocker would prevent this. You may take a beta-blocker to help control your heart rate and blood pressure. 
Examples of beta-blockers are: Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Labetolol, Metoprolol, Propanolol and Sotolol.


Blood Thinners
Blood thinners are part of a class of medicines called anticoagulants. Although they are called blood thinners, they do not really thin your blood. Instead, they decrease the blood’s ability to clot. Decreased clotting keeps fewer harmful clots from forming and from blocking blood vessels.
Example is Warfarin (Coumadin) While taking blood thinner medications you should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Also, watch your diet. Large doses of vitamin K (found in liver, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts) can decrease the effects of the medicine. This does not mean that you should stop eating these foods, just be careful not to eat too much of them. Aspirin is an “antiplatelet,” which means that it stops blood cells (called platelets) from sticking together and forming a blood clot. That is why some patients who are recovering from a heart attack are given aspirin-to prevent further blood clots from forming in the coronary arteries. Aspirin also reduces the substances in the body that cause pain and inflammation. Plavix is also an “antiplatelet,” which is used for patients after recent heart attack or after PTCA with stent placement, to reduce the risk of clot forming.

Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium-channel blockers slow the rate at which calcium passes into the heart muscle and into the vessel walls. This relaxes the vessels. The relaxed vessels let blood flow more easily through them, thereby lowering blood pressure. This helps to reduce the workload of the heart.
Examples of Calcium-channel blockers are: Diltiazem, Dilzem, Norvasc, Nifedipine and Verapamil.
 
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs
Also known as lipid lowering drugs. They reduce the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Your doctor may give you a cholesterol lowering medicine if you have high levels of total cholesterol or of LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholesterol”) that cannot be lowered with a program of diet and exercise.
Examples are: Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor
 
Diuretics
Diuretics are sometimes called “water pills”. They lower the amount of salt and water in your body, removing excess fluid from the body, which helps to lower your blood pressure.
Examples are: Lasix, Frumil

Nitrates
Nitrates are drugs that widen or vasodilate blood vessels. This improves blood flow and allows more oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart muscle. Nitrates also relax your veins. If less blood is returning to the heart from your arms and legs, it eases the workload of your heart.
Examples are: Nitroglycerin (GTN), Nitroderm, Monocard, Imdur and Isosorbide Mononitrate.
 
Warfarin
This medication is used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger. In cardiology, it is most often prescribed for people with certain types of irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter), after a large heart attack and after metallic heart valve replacement surgery. It is also taken after blood clots in the legs and lung.
 
How should I take Warfarin? Warfarin comes as a tablet and is taken by mouth, usually once a day. Follow the directions of your doctor carefully. Do not take more or less than prescribed by your doctor and continue taking it even if you feel well. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor.
 
Are there are any risks in taking Warfarin? The main risk when taking Warfarin is bleeding. However, it is a very safe medication, provided it is taken with the instructions of your doctor, regular blood tests are done to check its effect, and a steady diet is followed.
 
Does Warfarin have any side effects? Side effects with Warfarin are quite unusual, but they can occur. Warfarin may turn your urine orange. Other potential side effects of Warfarin include headache, upset stomach, diarrhea, fever and skin rash. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: Unusual bleeding or bruising, black or bloody stools, blood in the urine, tiredness, unexplained fever, chills, sore throat, stomach pain.
 
What special dietary instructions I should follow? There are certain foods that contain high amounts of vitamin K. Do not ingest large amounts of these foods, as they will decrease the effectiveness of Warfarin. These foods include liver, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. The American Heart Institute will provide a special booklet to our patients taking Warfarin.
 
Should I avoid any medications while taking Warfarin? Certain medications interact with Warfarin and may increase or decrease its effect. Inform your doctor what prescription and non-prescription medication you are taking and do not add or remove any medicines before consulting with your physician.
 
How should I store this medicine? Keep it in a tightly closed container, out of reach of children, and at room temperature away from excess heat and moisture.