10 Drugs Usually Prescribed for Heart Failure

Carlo Castillo
Carlo Castillo

Carlo is a Professional Health and Education Writer. He has built a career creating educational articles for both patients and healthcare professionals.

According to the World Health Organization, 17.9 million people die each year because of cardiovascular diseases. That is a whopping 32% of all deaths in the world. Strokes and heart attacks comprise 85% of all these CVD deaths. 

Heart failure has been one of the most common  and severe health conditions. In the United States alone, more than 6 million people are affected by it. Heart failure usually happens when damage has been done on the heart muscle and fails to pump blood the way it should. The result of this is that the body’s tissues fail to acquire enough blood that should be rich in oxygen. This could result in swelling of ankles, feet, weakness, unexplained weight gain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain.

Heart attack and heart failure have a very distinct connection as the latter is a complication of the former. Different types of heart disease may also cause this chronic condition. Linked are heart valve disorders, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), high blood pressure, and arrhythmias.

Accepting heart failure as a condition may be hard for many people but the best thing to do is to move forward and take the necessary steps for treatment. For some, heart failure may even be harder for the family than the patient but the important thing to do upon diagnosis is to get the best treatment possible. There are different medications that the doctor may prescribe, read along to know more about them.

Different Classes of Heart Failure Medications

There are various types of medicines for managing heart failure. Some drugs lessen the workload of the heart, assist the heart to pump blood, and lessen the buildup of fluid in the body. Doctors also recommend drugs for reducing cholesterol and preventing blood clots. Most heart failure patients get prescribed more than one medication. 

The following are the classes of medication drugs.

Diuretics

Urination eliminates fluid from the body and diuretics help increase fluid. Diuretics help to improve breathing, reduce swelling, and lower blood pressure. Dizziness, thirst, sensitivity to sunlight, and increased urination are the typical side effects of diuretics. 

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) Inhibitors

These drugs help in lowering blood pressure. They also promote better blood flow and that helps the heart by not making it work so hard in pumping blood. The usual side effects caused by ACE inhibitors are dry cough and skin rash.   

ARNIs (angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitors)

Two drug types are combined to form ARNIs. They function by enhancing blood flow and reducing heart strain. Dizziness and cough are the two common side effects of ARNIs. Regular lab tests may be required with this drug class.

Aldosterone Antagonists

These drugs work differently than diuretics but help in acquiring similar results. Aldosterone Antagonists increase fluid loss and that leads to lower blood pressure as it helps lessen the workload of the heart. Stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea are the most typical side effects of Aldosterone Antagonists. Regular lab tests may also be required with this class of heart failure medication.

ARB (angiotensin II receptor blockers)

ARBs assist by relaxing blood vessels which leads to a decrease in blood pressure. They are similar to ACE inhibitors as they help lessen the workload of the heart. Lightheadedness and dizziness are the most common side effects of ARBs.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers help by lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, and making the heart beat using less force. The effects of these drugs help ease heart strain. Dizziness, weakness, and fatigue are common side effects of beta blockers.  

Doctors pick the best treatment option by following expert recommendations and guidelines. Doctors typically consider test results, heart failure stage, and symptoms. Upon the start of treatment, doctors will monitor the response of the body to these drugs. At this stage, dosage adjustments, change in drugs, or addition of drugs may occur to achieve the most effective treatment.

After the different classes of heart failure medications, it’s time to delve into the most prescribed drugs. Below you will learn about the 10 drugs usually prescribed for heart failure.

10 Usually Prescribed Heart Failure Drugs

Enalapril (Vasotec)

Enalapril is classified as an ACE inhibitor. Doctors may advise splitting higher doses and taking them twice each day.

Lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil)

Lisinopril is classified as an ACE inhibitor. This drug is among the 10 usually prescribed for heart failure and is usually taken once a day. 

Metoprolol (Toprol XL, Lopressor)

Metoprolol is classified as a beta blocker. This drug comes in an extended-release and an immediate-release form. The use of metoprolol assists in lowering the risk of heart attack repeats. Those who have experienced a previous heart attack are typically prescribed Metoprolol.

Furosemide (Lasix)

Furosemide is classified as a diuretic. This drug is typically taken once a day. Take note that doctors may only require this on specific days per week for treating edema. It is usually recommended to take diuretics in the morning to let the fluids pass throughout the day. It helps in reducing interruptions of sleep during the evening. 

Carvedilol (Coreg CR, Coreg)

Carvedilol is classified as a beta blocker. The regular tablet’s typical dose is twice a day. The controlled-release capsule is taken once a day during the morning. It is advised to take both along with food.

Spironolactone (Aldactone)

Spironolactone is classified as an aldosterone antagonist. For heart failure, the typical dose is once a day. Spironolactone is advised to be taken during the morning. Take note that salt substitutes that have potassium must not be used with this drug. Potassium levels dangerously shoot up with this drug.

Triamterene/hydrochlorothiazide (Maxzide, Dyazide)

This drug is a mixture of two diuretics. This combo helps to keep potassium normal and prevent it from reaching dangerously low levels. It is important to note that extra potassium should be avoided unless consulted with a doctor. This drug is usually taken once every morning.

Losartan (Cozaar)

Losartan is classified as an ARB. This drug is usually taken once a day.

Valsartan (Diovan)

Valsartan is classified as an ARB. This helps in improving survival after experiencing a heart attack. The typical dose for this drug is twice a day.

Ramipril (Altace)

Ramipril is classified as an ACE inhibitor. The typical dose for heart failure is twice a day. 

Those are the 10 drugs usually prescribed for heart failure. It would be best to consult a doctor if side effects and other problems occur with current treatment. Switching to another drug may be the possible option to get improved results. 

Medication is just a component of a comprehensive treatment plan. This treatment would fail if other aspects such as optimal lifestyle habits and proper diet are not observed.

Having heart failure will likely require having treatment for life. Always bear in mind that heart failure gets worse with time despite treatment. Nevertheless, some steps can be taken to achieve a better quality of life.

Managing Heart Failure Condition

A treatment plan is essential to assist in relieving symptoms and making daily activities easier. Strict implementation of this plan can help in lowering the chance of being rushed to the hospital.  

Always take medicines religiously just as the doctor prescribes. It is important to be honest about the side effects so that potential changes on the prescriptions could be implemented. 

Typically, doctors will recommend lifestyle changes that would benefit the heart. The treatment would require changes in habits and it may seem hard for some people. Ultimately, it would be required to stop smoking, avoid eating foods that are high in cholesterol, sodium, and fat. Excessive drinking of alcohol should also be avoided. These changes are needed or else everything would be for naught. It would be usual to be advised about limiting the intake of liquids to lessen fluid buildup.

It is essential to acquire medical care for other conditions that may contribute to the worsening of heart failure such as diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, liver, kidney, or lung disease. Letting the doctor know about all medications being taken is critical as this will help in the entire treatment plan. Some medicines may worsen symptoms of heart failure that is why it is critical to be honest about every drug being taken. 

The Importance of Knowing When to Seek Help

It is highly essential to watch out for signs that may indicate worsening of heart failure. There are symptoms to look out for such as ankle swelling, weight gain, or increased shortness of breath which may indicate fluid buildup in the body. Weight changes also serve as essential data that your doctor may need for evaluation. 

Worsening of symptoms may suddenly occur. Immediately ask the doctor for potential emergency care or a visit to the clinic. It would be handy to keep the phone numbers of your doctor and the hospital. Having designated people ready to help with a medical care emergency should also be prepared. Having directions to the doctor’s office, the name of the doctor/s and the list of all medicines being taken should be ready as well.