Heart Failure Guide

common medications

  • Diuretics (water pills)
    • helps your body to get rid of excess water in the lungs or extremities
    • decreasing fluid in your lungs will help you breathe easier
    • decreases swelling in your ankles and legs
    • makes you urinate more often
    • take your water pill at the same time every morning
    • common side effects include:
      1. dizziness
      2. severe weakness
      3. leg cramps (may be from low potassium)
  • ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors
    • help relax your blood vessels (lower blood pressure) and makes it easier for the heart to pump
    • common side effects include:
      1. dizziness (blood pressure may be too low)
      2. dry cough
      3. problems with the potassium level
      4. swelling in your lips, tongue or throat
  • Digitalis preparations
    • improves heart function by making your heart beat stronger
    • common side effects include:
      1. nausea or vomiting
      2. blurred or yellow-tinted colored vision
      3. irregular heartbeat
      4. slow heart rate that may lead to dizziness or blackouts
  • Beta-blockers
    • lowers blood pressure and slows down your heart rate
    • common side effects include: feeling tired or dizzy due to lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB)
    • help relax your blood vessels (lower blood pressure) and makes it easier for the heart to pump
    • may be prescribed instead of ACE inhibitor
    • common side effects include:
      1. dizziness (blood pressure may be too low)
      2. problems with the potassium level
  • Vasodilators (Nitrates)
    • improve blood flow by relaxing blood vessels
    • decrease the workload on the heart
    • using medications for erectile dysfunction when your are taking vasodilators can cause a serious drop in blood pressure, so check with your healthcare provider before taking these when on vasodilators
    • common side effects include:
      1.  dizziness
      2.  headaches
      3.  nausea and vomiting
  • Anticoagulants
    • help to prevent blood clots
    • ask your healthcare provider what activities to avoid since blood thinners can cause bleeding
    • ask your healthcare provider how often they should have labwork to check the effects of these medications
    • dark leafy green vegetables (i.e. spinach, kale) should be avoided as they could decrease the effect of this medicine

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