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Medications to help your heart

Your health-care provider will likely prescribe medications for heart failure and any underlying health problems you have. Certain medications help you live longer by improving the way your heart pumps over time. Others are taken to relieve symptoms. Your healthcare provider will work to find the combination of medicines that works best for you.

Medications for related conditions

Types of Medications

What They Do

ACE Inhibitor
  • Lowers blood pressure and decreases strain on the heart. This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves blood flow.
Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB)
  • Lowers blood pressure and decreases strain on the heart. This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves blood flow.
  • May be prescribed instead of an ACE inhibitor.
  • Lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate by altering hormones (body chemicals) damaging the heart.
  • May strengthen the heart's pumping action over time.
  • Helps rid the body of excess water, which reduces swelling and may improve breathing. Less fluid to pump means the heart doesn't have to work so hard.
  • Also called "water pills."
Aldosterone Antagonist
  • Alters hormones damaging the heart, decreases strain on the heart.
  • Given for advanced heart failure.
Hydralazine and Nitrate
  • Lowers blood pressure and decreases how hard the heart has to work.
  • Two separate medications used together. May come in one "combination" pill.
  • Slows heart rate, helps heart pump more blood with each beat. More oxygen-rich blood travels to the body.

Controlling other heart problems helps keep heart failure under control, too. Depending on other heart problems you have, medications may be prescribed to:

  • Lower blood pressure (antihypertensives).
  • Lower cholesterol levels (statins).
  • Prevent blood clots (anticoagulants or aspirin).
  • Keep the heartbeat steady (antiarrhythmics).


Being smart about alternatives

You may have heard herbs and supplements help with heart failure symptoms. These claims are being studied, but have not been medically proven. Keep in mind that "natural" doesn't mean safe. Herbs, extracts and other supplements can interact with prescribed medications. And some over-the-counter products can cause organ damage. If you want to try an alternative treatment, talk with your healthcare provider first.

Keep track of your medications by using Baptist Health Paducah's Universal Medication Form. This form will allow you to record your and your family's prescriptions, as well as other important health information. Print out the form, complete it and keep it with you at all times.

To learn more about cardiac services at Baptist Health Paducah, including the Baptist Heart Center, phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918. If you are experiencing chest pain, speak to one of our cardiac nurses at the Chest Pain Hotline, 1-800-575-1911.

For a schedule of upcoming Understanding Heart Failure classes, click here.