Heart disease medications
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and other healthy lifestyle choices can improve your heart's health. Some people may also may need to take the following medications to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
- Aspirin helps prevent heart attacks when taken regularly in a low dose with your physician's approval.
- Anti-platelet agents keep blood platelets from clotting to prevent unwanted blood clots that can occur with certain heart or blood vessel conditions. These "super aspirins" include: Plavix (clopidogrel), Effient® (prasugrel) and Brilinta® (ticagrelor).
- Beta-blockers lower blood pressure by reducing the force with which the heart pumps. These drugs block the action of substances that increase heart rate and blood pressure. Beta-blockers also are used to treat chest pain and to prevent a second heart attack.
- ACE inhibitors are used to lower blood pressure after a heart attack when the heart muscle has been damaged. They're also often used for patients who have diabetes. ACE inhibitors work by halting the production of a chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow.
- Digitalis makes the heart contract harder. It's used when the heart's pumping function has been weakened, as well as to slow quick heart rhythms.
- Diuretics cause the kidneys to excrete more water and salts than normal, thereby reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers are used to lower blood pressure and to treat chest pain. It's important not to drink grapefruit juice for at least 4 hours after taking a calcium channel blocker. According to the American Heart Association, recent studies show that there is a compound in grapefruit juice that appears to interfere with the liver's ability to clear certain drugs from the body.
- Nitrates (including nitroglycerine) relax blood vessels to relieve chest pain.
- Cholesterol-lowering agents are often prescribed, including statins (HMG CoA reductase inhibitors), bile acid sequestrants, fibric acid derivatives, and nicotinic acid (niacin).
Because all drugs prescribed to prevent or treat heart disease have side effects, it's important to know as much as possible before taking them. Make a list of the medications you're taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, before visiting your physician. This list can help your doctor prescribe medications that you can take safely without dangerous drug interactions.
In addition, never stop taking any heart medication without first consulting your physician.
As a part of our commitment to patient safety, our HealthEast Heart Care team repeatedly re-confirms the medications each patient is taking at home. We do this so no duplications or omissions occur.
Keep track of your medicationsUse "My Medicine List" to create a list of your medications. Creating this list and keeping it up-to-date, is a simple step that you can take to help ensure your health and safety.
Always keep your list in your wallet or purse for easy access. When listing the medicines you take, be sure to include: prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements.
Call HealthEast Care Connection at 651-326-CARE (2273) to have this form mailed to you.
Print "My Medicine List"
Pre-register for your procedure
Complete a pre-registration form before your outpatient procedure at any of the locations at right. You can either fill out the form below or call HealthEast Pre-registration at 651-232-5855.
For procedures at:
HealthEast Heart Care
HealthEast Optimum Rehabilitation
HealthEast Pain Center
HealthEast Sleep Care
HealthEast Vascular Center
St. John's Hospital
St. Joseph's Hospital
Woodwinds Health Campus
Non-surgical cardiovascular procedures
During angioplasty, a small tube is inserted into a blood vessel. A tiny balloon is pushed through the tube to the blocked area. When the tube reaches the blockage, the tip is inflated to open the blockage and restore blood flow through the vessel. The balloon is then removed.
We offer "primary" angioplasty around the clock. Primary angioplasty means that if you experience a heart attack you will be treated with angioplasty instead of drugs (thrombolytics or "clot busters").
In recent years, medical experts have identified primary angioplasty as the "gold standard of care" compared to drug therapy. The benefits of primary angioplasty include lower death rate from a heart attack, lower rate of stroke and shorter hospital stays.
Stents help keep arteries open. Stents are steel mesh tubes placed inside a narrowed artery after angioplasty has opened it up by pushing the plaque against the artery wall. Over time a smooth surface forms inside the stent, promoting the flow of blood.
During an atherectomy, a doctor cleans the inside of arteries with a delicate, scraping action. This removes plaque and improves blood flow. Following an atherectomy, other procedures, such as angioplasty, may be performed.
Permanent pacemaker placement
A pacemaker is a small device that sends tiny electrical impulses to the heart muscle. The electrical impulses are precisely timed and cause the heart to beat very similarly to the naturally occurring heart rhythm.
The pacemaker system consist of the pacemaker itself (a small metal can with electronics and a battery) and one, two or three leads, also known as “wires.” These leads are insulated wires that carry the electrical pulse to the heart. The leads also provide information about the heart’s activity back to the pacemaker.
There are three types of pacemakers:
- Single chamber pacemakers use one lead in the upper right chamber (the atrium) or lower right chamber (the ventricle) of the heart.
- Dual chamber pacemakers use one lead in the upper right chamber and one lead in the lower right chamber of the heart.
- Biventricular pacemakers have two or three leads that are positioned in the heart. They are also called CRT devices. One lead is in the right ventricle and one is along the left ventricle via the coronary sinus vein. This type of pacemaker may or may not have a lead in the right atrium.
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
An implantable defibrillator (ICD) is used to treat rapid, dangerous heart rhythms. The ICD is a small device about the size of a pager and is placed below the collar bone. It continuously monitors the heart’s rhythm. When the defibrillator detects a heart rhythm that is too fast, it sends electrical impulses to your heart. These impulses can return your heart to a normal rhythm. A defibrillator can reduce the chance of cardiac arrest.
Defibrillators also have pacemakers contained in their systems. They are constantly monitoring the heart and will deliver tiny pacing pulses if the heart beats too slowly.
Types of ICDs:
- Single lead ICD - a lead is positioned into the right lower chamber of the heart (the ventricle).
- Dual chamber ICD – a lead is positioned into the right lower chamber (the ventricle) and also the right upper chamber (the atrium).
- Biventricular ICD – Also known as a CRT device (cardiac resynchronization therapy) has two or three leads that are positioned in the heart. One lead in the right ventricle and one lead along the left ventricle via the coronary sinus vein. Patients may or may not have a third lead in the right atrium.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is used to treat the delay in heart ventricle contractions that can lead to a weakened heart muscle and heart failure.
The CRT pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) is similar to a standard pacemaker or ICD. It is similar in size and weight and has two or three leads. They are positioned in the heart to help restore proper timing of the heart’s contractions and deliver small electrical impulses to both ventricles. This may improve the pumping function so the heart can work more efficiently. Over time, patients may experience an improvement in their symptoms. Patients may also need medication in addition to a CRT implant.
Electrophysiology ablation is a procedure to correct abnormal heart rhythms. It involves inserting catheters - narrow, flexible wires - into a blood vessel. They are inserted through a vein in the arm, groin or neck and directed into the heart. The path from entry point to heart muscle is navigated by images created by a fluoroscope, an x-ray-like machine that provides continuous, "live" images of the catheter and tissue. Once the catheter reaches the heart, electrodes at the tip of the catheter gather data which isolates the location of the faulty electrical site. Once the damaged site in the heart is confirmed, energy is used to destroy or "ablate" a small amount of tissue. This stops the disturbance of electrical flow through your heart and restores a healthy heart rhythm.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) affecting millions of Americans each year. AF symptoms may include palpitations (racing heart sensation), shortness of breath, lightheadedness and fatigue. Previously AF had to be controlled by medications which had to be taken daily and frequently did not fully suppress the arrhythmia. Now, Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PVI) is a procedure performed in the heart catheterization lab which entails placing several small electrodes in the heart in order to map and then ablate (destroy) the areas responsible for causing the AF. This procedure is successful in markedly improving the symptoms in the vast majority of patients and is curative in over half the patients with AF. Patients are generally monitored overnight and discharged the next day. Patients resume full activity within one week of the procedure. Not all patients with AF are candidates for the PVI ablation procedure, but any patient that has had symptoms not controlled by medication should consider a discussion with their doctor or one of the HealthEast Heart Care Rhythm Specialists.
For many types of arrhythmias, catheter ablation is highly successful, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery or long-term drug therapy.
Volunteer for a clinical trialResearch helps change our future for the better. The knowledge gained can lead to better health in the years ahead.
Participation in clinical trials at HealthEast offers opportunities to help test new drugs, procedures or devices for people with a variety of health conditions, such as high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.
Contact usQuestions about participating in research studies?
Click the link below for more information about our current trials, or contact the research team at 651-326-4448.
Learn more about current trials