The Definitive Guide to Heart Medications and How to Use Them

Categories: Drug Prices, Drug Safety | Posted On:

If you or your loved one has recently had a heart attack, you have likely been issued a series of medications that you will be on for the rest of your life. Even heart conditions as simple as hypertension require medications that are long-term and long-lasting.

Navigating the waters of what each of these medicines does can be difficult on your own. Your doctor is always there to help, of course, but we’ve put together this guide to help you.

Different Heart Medications

Read on to learn more about different heart medications, what they do, and a few other things to consider if you have been prescribed these medications.


Statins are medications that help to lower the LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 20-50%. LDL is also known as the “bad” cholesterol.

Statins do this by working to trick the liver into removing LDL more than it would naturally on its own.

Some medical professionals and their patients are worried about statins causing liver damage. These worries have never been founded, as even in cases when a patient has taken a statin and has liver damage, the statin is never found as the main factor in this issue.

Sometimes a doctor will order liver function testing.

There are some things to look out for if you have been prescribed a statin for your heart condition. Muscle pain, when it is severe, can be the onset of a severe side effect.

If you start to feel extreme muscle pain accompanied by tea-colored urine, call your doctor and stop taking your statin immediately.

Mild muscle pain isn’t an issue, and will likely go away with a little tweaking of this medication.

Some of the brand names of statins are Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Altoprev, Pravachol, Crestor, Zocor, and Livalo.


Aspirin is a medication that prevents blood clots. It does this by stopping the effects of prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins are a naturally occurring hormone that controls inflammation, blood clot formation, and blood flow.

If you have a heart disease, aspirin is likely a normal part of your medication routine. With coronary heart disease, aspirin is a must.

However, if you are prone to stomach ulcers or bleeding conditions, often times aspirin is too risky to take. As always, talk to your doctor before starting an aspirin routine.

If you don’t have a heart condition, don’t take aspirin in the hopes of keeping cardiac complications at bay. You can cause yourself and your body serious issues, especially in your gastrointestinal system and your brain.

Clopidogrel Bisulfate

Clopidogrel bisulfate is a sort of super aspirin. It is used in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

When it is used alongside aspirin, it can help stop angina, or chest pain can prevent blood clots and can keep blood vessels open after cardiac procedures.

As clopidogrel bisulfate is a more potent aspirin, it can also have more serious side effects. 3% of patients experience bleeding problems categorized as moderate to severe. Also, many cannot digest this medication properly, so they do not get the maximum benefit.

Plavix is the brand name of clopidogrel bisulfate.

Warfarin Sodium

Warfarin is an anticoagulant. Anticoagulants can stop the blood from over-thickening, preventing and treating blood clots.

Instead of thinning the blood like aspirin, it blocks the effects of vitamin K, which is found in leafy greens and is used by the liver to make blood clotting proteins.

Warfarin is more powerful than aspirin and clopidogrel.

However, because of its powerful properties, Warfarin is a medication that is difficult to use safely. There are many medications that the average user will take that also have anticoagulation effects, and warfarin will interact negatively with those.

Also, because of its method of blocking a nutrient in your diet, when you change your diet abruptly, you risk causing your blood to think too much or too little.

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When you’re on Warfarin, frequent blood tests are needed to make sure you’re taking the medication safely.

If you are searching for the brand name, Coumadin is warfarin.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are medications used to treat high blood pressure. They block the effects of epinephrine, a hormone in your body. This hormone is also known as adrenaline.

Your heart will beat more slowly and with a little less force when you’re taking a beta blocker. This helps to reduce your blood pressure. They also open up blood vessels to improve the flow of blood.

Beta blockers can occasionally lower the heart rate too far. This can make the patient dizzy. They are also capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier and can cause nightmares and in rare cases, depression.

Beta blockers can also restrict airways, so those with lung disorders should not take beta blockers.

Some of the brand names of beta blockers are Sectral, Tenormin, Zebeta, Lopressor, Corgard, Bystolic, and Inderal LA.

ACE Inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (or ACE inhibitors) are medications that can slow the ACE enzyme, decreasing the production of the chemical in the body that circulates the blood.

This causes the blood vessels to enlarge or dilate, and reduce blood pressure. This makes it easier for the heart to pump and improves the function of a failing heart.

It can also slow the progression of some kidney diseases or diabetes.

They can cause kidney function to decrease, can increase potassium levels, and can cause a condition called angioedema. This can result in obstructed airways. Side effects go away when the drug is stopped.

Things to Consider when Taking Heart Medication

Different Medicines are Used in Different Ways

Some medications can be used to cure a disease. Some can be used to stabilize it. There are others that improve the quality of life.

People with hypertension take medications to control blood pressure, but that won’t cure the issue. However, heart attack patients take statins and beta blockers to allow the heart to recover. This can allow for fewer heart attacks in the future.

You Have Specific Needs

Your doctor will help you find a medication to help you in as many ways as possible. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might select something that protects your kidneys. If you had a heart attack, they’ll select something that helps to heal and prevent arrhythmias in the future.

Don’t Go Off Script

Taking medicine periodically, changing the dosage, or altering the prescribed course of treatment in any way can cause serious damage. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes in your medication routines.

Oftentimes medications are prescribed in the exact doses needed. Perhaps you’re taking another medicine that can work adversely with your heart medication. Changing either of these doses can result in possibly fatal effects.

Your doctor is there to help. Let them!

Don’t Panic About Side Effects

There is a precarious balance between wanting to keep your patients as informed as possible and accidentally priming them to experience those effects.

Remember that these medications can save your life. A lot of times, your side effects can be mitigated or avoided altogether if you just talk to your doctor and create a plan.

The Heart of the Matter

Being diagnosed with a heart condition is scary. Having a heart attack is even scarier. All the doctor’s visits and the heart medications and side effects that are thrown your way can be confusing.

When you incorporate the cost of these medications, it can get even worse.

But don’t let rising costs of medications keep you from purchasing them. We here at have developed a free tool for you to use to search reputable pharmacies for the lowest cost possible.

Before you shop anywhere else, search for your heart medicine in our database today! When you spend less, you save more!

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs.

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