Medications important for keeping heart disease in check

February is American Heart Month. Nearly 40 percent of America’s long-term healthcare residents have heart disease, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Residents with heart disease rely on medications to manage their symptoms and lower their risk of having a cardiac event. Depending on their treatment plan, a resident may be on several medications and it’s important to understand how they work. The following is a brief overview of some common types of medications used to treat heart disease.

  • Anticoagulants, commonly called blood thinners, interfere with proteins in the blood that help in clotting. People with heart disease have plaque buildup in their blood vessels that can lead to the formation of dangerous blood clots. Potential clots can completely block or restrict blood flow to the heart or brain.

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors and beta-blockers are used to help lower blood pressure and decrease the heart's workload. This keeps some kinds of heart disease from getting worse. ACE inhibitors interfere with the body’s formation of a hormone (angiotensin II) that can narrow blood vessels. Beta-blockers treat high blood pressure by causing the heart to beat at a slower rate and with less force. These drugs block the blood vessel-narrowing effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.

  • Calcium channel blockers are also used to lower blood pressure. They work by preventing calcium, from entering the cells of the heart and arteries. This nutrient causes the heart and arteries to contract more strongly and blocking it allows the blood vessels to relax.

  • Diuretics help the kidneys remove excess fluids and some sodium from the body through urination. As a result, the blood vessels do not have to hold as much fluid and blood pressure goes down.

  • Nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, dilate the coronary arteries and relieve or prevent chest pain from angina. These medications increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while reducing its workload.

  • Statins and/or non-statin therapies are used to control high blood cholesterol and plaque buildup in the blood vessels. Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver and helping the liver remove cholesterol that is already in the blood. Statins may also reduce inflammation in the artery walls. Non-statin drugs, like cholesterol absorption inhibitors, may be used to reduce cholesterol when statins do not lower cholesterol enough or cause side effects.
If you would like to know more about how Turenne PharMedCo Pharmacy Services can help you serve your residents, contact us at 1-866-710-7626.

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