When it comes to heart health, there are many prescribed medicines out there to help keep hearts ticking over nicely. Common problems include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, angina and even blood clots.
Its paramount you only take medication as directed as failure to do so may result in either worsening symptoms or having less of an effect than intended. Bear in mind, high blood pressure has no symptoms generally, so once you start medication, do not be surprised that you ‘feel’ they are having no effect.
As an added good idea, regularly monitor your condition and medicines to ensure you are getting the maximum benefit. If you feel you are not, consult your GP.
Blood Pressure Medicines
High Blood Pressure (hypertension) for many carries no symptoms, and only a doctor can diagnose. After diagnosis, there are a number of medicines that could be prescribed to you to help lower it. Some of these include:
ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors, for example ramipril to help reduce the activity of angiotensin II, an enzyme in the body that when it enters your blood stream, narrows blood vessels, giving blood less space to move in, which can raise blood pressure.
Beta-blockers including atenolol help by making the heart have to work with less speed and improve blood flow by helping blood vessels to open more.
Angiotensin II antagonists like losartan also help to prevent the action of the enzyme angiotensin II which can raise blood pressure.
Calcium Channel Antatagonists such as amlodipine may be prescribed to help blood vessels relax thus reducing blood pressure. This is because the body occasionally uses calcium to narrow blood vessels, and by blocking this effect, vessel walls can relax, making blood flow easier.
Diuretics or water tablets, for example bendroflumethazide help to remove excess water and salt from the body. This is helpful because having more fluid in your body, in a constrained space, will cause your blood pressure to rise.
Cholesterol Lowering Medicines
Statins are the most common type of cholesterol-lowering medicines and Simvastatin is the most commonly prescribed. As the body produces most of its cholesterol at night, most statins should be taken at night. If you experience side effects including any muscle pain or weakness while you’re taking a statin, seek medical advice from your GP. Grapefruit and Grapefruit Juice can increase the risk of side effects, so steer clear of these. One Statin may not be as helpful to you as another, thus it is advised to regularly visit your GP to monitor progress and modify the prescription if necessary.
The role of the Angina medicine is to help relieve and prevent the pain associated with the condition. Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) is available in tablets or a spray for use in the case of an angina attack to immediately provide relief from the pain.
Nitrates such as Isosorbide Mononitrate work similarly to GTN but last far longer in the body. They work to increase the blood flow to the heart to help ‘prevent’ angina attacks.
Medicines to Help Prevent Blood Clots
Platelets are an essential component of blood. They help blood to clot after cuts/wounds or injuries, but, if too many platelets become attached to a cholesterol deposit in your arteries, a blood clot can develop which can increase the chance of having a heart attack. Medicines to help prevent such things occurring include aspirin and warfarin, and may be prescribed particularly if they person has previously had a stroke or heart attack, or even an irregular heartbeat.