Common medications to treat heart failure include:
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors [ACE Inhibitors]
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors [ACE Inhibitors] (Capoten, Vasotec, Zestril, Prinivil, Accupril) a type of vasodilator that dilates the blood vessels to improve the heart's output of blood and increase blood flow. They improve symptoms, exercise tolerance, and survival in patients with heart failure. These drugs also reduce the effects of salt and fluid-retaining hormones.
Diuretics (Lasix, Bumex, Demadex, Aldactone, Zaroxolyn) remove excess fluid from the tissues and blood stream to reduce swelling in the legs and abdomen, and reduce congestion in the lungs (making breathing easier).
Digoxin (Lanoxin) improves the heart's pumping ability.
Vasodilators (Hydralazine, Isordil, Imdur) used to lower blood pressure by relaxing the arteries and veins to lessen the heart's work.
Sometimes, they may be used in place of ACE inhibitors in patients who are experiencing ACE inhibitor side-effects.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (Hyzaar, Cozaar, Atacand, Diovan, Avapro) may be used in place of ACE inhibitors for patients who are experiencing ACE inhibitor side-effects or as an additional drug to lower blood pressure and relax the arteries and veins to lessen the heart's work.
These drugs also reduce the effects of salt and fluid-retaining hormones.
Potassium & Magnesium
Potassium & Magnesium replaces these essential nutrients which may be lost with increased urination when taking diuretics.
Beta-Blockers (Carvedilol, Lopressor, Tenormin, Inderal, Toprol XL) decreases the amount of work for the heart. These agents may aggravate the symptoms of heart failure at first. However, after three months of therapy, beta-blockers have shown to improve symptoms, exercise capacity, and survival.
Other medications may be prescribed as needed such as: Antiplatelets or Anticoagulants (aspirin, Coumadin) - also called "blood thinners", are used to prevent blood clots within the heart which can cause a stroke or embolism.
Antiarrhythmics (Amiodarone) - regulate the heart rhythm when serious abnormal heart beats are detected.
Intravenous Inotropic Drugs
Intravenous Inotropic Drugs (Dobutamine, Milrinone). If your condition worsens, you may be treated in the hospital with a short course of dobutamine or milrinone. These drugs are infused intravenously (by IV) for several days and then tapered off. Patients who receive these drugs feel more energetic and are able to breath better. In certain instances, these drugs may be given continuously at home in order to maintain cardiac stability. Some patients require long-term hospitalization for high dose infusion therapy. Patients who require these drugs in the hospital are listed as Status IA/B candidates.
Investigational Heart Failure Medications
- You may have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation of new drugs for treating heart failure.
Ask your transplant cardiologist whether you would be a candidate.
- If you participate in a new drug study: After the study is explained to you, you will have an opportunity to have your questions answered, and you will need to sign a consent form.
- You will have baseline screening blood tests as well as other tests to evaluate the function of your heart. Some of these tests may be performed as part of your heart transplant evaluation.
- You will need to have regular follow-up visits at the Clinic. You must be able to return at regular intervals. In most cases, visits, parking, and study medications are free of charge when you participate in an investigational drug trial.
- These drugs may provide additional benefit over and above standard medical therapy for heart failure. They are generally new compounds and not available except on a protocol basis. If possible, try to participate in an investigational drug study while awaiting a heart transplant.