Treatment & Devices
Treatment & Devices
Medications used to treat, prevent or lessen the frequency or severity of abnormal heart rhythms are called anti-arrhythmics. Sometimes, they are used in combination with other treatments such as implanted pacemakers and ICDs.
Medications also are prescribed to treat or relieve symptoms of cardiovascular conditions that can contribute to heart rhythm disorders and heart disease, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease (CAD), and congestive heart failure (CHF).
Many different classes of medications are used for patients with various cardiovascular disorders.
Antiarrhythmics are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Anti-clotting agents or anticoagulants are drugs that prevent blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke. Anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin), are commonly used for patients with atrial fibrillation or mechanical heart valves. Patients taking warfarin require periodic blood tests (INR) to ensure that the blood is appropriately thinned. Newer anticoagulants require no blood testing and include Pradaxa (dabigatran), Eliquis (apixaban), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), and Savaysa (edoxaban).
Antihypertensives help to lower high blood pressure (hypertension).
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs are useful in preventing high cholesterol levels in the blood. Lower cholesterol helps to prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks, and may be useful in preventing some arrhythmias.
Diuretics decrease fluid and salt in the body, which reduces the heart's workload in congestive heart failure CHF and can help lower high blood pressure. They are sometimes referred to as "water pills." People taking water pills often require periodic blood tests to check electrolyte levels in the body, and may need to take extra potassium to maintain safe levels in the blood.
Inotropic and Cardiotonic Drugs stimulate the force of heart muscle contractions, and may be helpful for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
Pain Relievers may be prescribed after a heart attack to treat pain or relieve angina (chest pain caused by reduced supply of oxygen to the heart).
Thrombolytic Therapy, or clot-busting drugs are used in the early stages of heart attack or stroke to break up a blood clot and restore blood flow. Thrombolytics are used in the hospital setting, and are different than anticoagulants, such as warfarin.