There is a wide range of drugs that are designed either to reduce the
risk of heart disease or prevent a reoccurrence. The following is a
simple list of each of the drug families. For a critical and more
thorough overview, please search the database on this site.
ACE inhibitors: ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors do
just that – they restrict the level of angiotensin, a chemical that
narrows blood vessels. They are designed to dilate the arteries, so
causing a reduction in blood pressure.
Anti-arrhythmic drugs: These are designed to correct disturbances in the heart’s natural rhythm.
Anticoagulants: These are designed to reduce blood clotting, and are
usually prescribed for treating clots of the leg veins, otherwise known
as deep vein thrombosis. They do not, however, dissolve existing clots.
Aspirin: Aspirin is recommended as a ‘just-in-case’ therapy that’s
designed to prevent blood clotting. But stroke victims, whose attack
was the result of a haemorrhage rather than a clot, should not take
Beta-blockers: These powerful drugs control the speed and force of
the heart by blocking the action of hormones such as adrenaline that
make the heart beat faster and more vigorously.
Calcium channel blockers: These drugs, which are also known as
calcium antagonists, help to relax the arteries by reducing the amount
of calcium that enters them.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs: Statins are by far the most popular
cholesterol-lowering drugs, and they are often prescribed as a
preventative. There have been concerns that they may actually
contribute to heart disease and they have also been linked to
Diuretics: These are also known as ‘water tablets’. They increase
the body’s output of water and salt in the urine, and they are designed
to help prevent heart failure in cases where there is an excess of
water and salt in the body.
Nitrates: These drugs are designed to relieve angina pain, and
reduce the chances of a heart attack in patients who are at special
risk. They relax the muscles in the walls of veins and arteries.
Potassium channel activators: These have a similar action to
nitrates, and they relax the walls of the coronary arteries, improving
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