Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors)
ACE inhibitors are heart failure medications that make it easier for the heart to pump by widening the blood vessels. ACE inhibitors limit the amount of stress hormones in a heart failure patients' body. Stress hormones may cause tightening of arteries, increasing the blood pressure and the workload of the heart.
Like beta blockers, ACE inhibitors decrease the amount of stress hormones in the body that can worsen heart failure.
The long-term effects of ACE inhibitors can slow the progression of heart failure and improve symptoms.
ACE inhibitors can increase the amount of blood the heart pumps or ejection fraction over time.
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB)
This heart failure medication is for patients who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors.
Like ACE inhibitors, ARBs block certain stress hormones from tightening the arteries, thus decreasing the stress hormones that can negatively affect the heart.
Diuretics, often called "water pills," help the body get rid of extra fluid, so there is less fluid for the heart to pump. Diuretics decrease the swelling in the legs and feet and improve breathing for heart failure patients. Most diuretics lower potassium levels, an important electrolyte for the heart, and increase urination, so these should be taken as advised by a physician.
Digoxin is a class of medications that help the heart pump slower and more effectively. This drug may not be appropriate for all types of heart failure patients.
Aldosterone antagonists are a group of medications that block a hormone called aldosterone, which causes fluid retention and can make the symptoms of heart failure worse. Aldosterone antagonists are a type of diuretic that prevent the body from losing potassium. Lab work may be ordered when patients start this heart failure medication.
These heart failure medications are a class of drugs that block certain hormones that can put stress on the heart. These stress hormones can cause high blood pressure and/or a fast heart rate.
Beta blockers slow heart rate and widen (dilate) arteries, which lowers blood pressure. They allow a stiff heart more time to relax so it can properly fill with blood. Also, by widening the arteries, there is more blood flow to the kidneys.
It is important to remember that beta blockers are beneficial to the heart even if there is not a fast heart rate or high blood pressure, because they decrease the hormones that can put stress on the heart for a heart failure patient.