February is American Heart month. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer in both men and women. They also say that 60,800,000 people in the USA suffer from some form of heart disease, and that usually one out of every 2.5 deaths result from cardiovascular disease (www.American Heart.org). It is important to understand heart disease and heart medications because either you or someone you care about will probably be diagnosed with it.
I was one of those people that were diagnosed with it. I know the topic well. The following are the commonly prescribed heart medications: Enalapril (Vasotec), Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), Atenolol (Tenormin), Lopressor, and Coumadin (Warfarin). I have used four of these medications myself.
Enalapril (Vasotec) and Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) are ACE Inhibitors. ACE Inhibitor is used to treat heat failure after a heart attack. It is also used to treat high blood pressure. They help the pumping function of the heart, and help to decrease blood pressure. They usually can be taken with food. You should alert your doctor if you get a side effect of a dry, nagging cough.
Atenolol (Tenormin) and Lopressor are Beta Blockers. Beta Blockers are used to lower blood pressure, help prevent irregular heartbeats by lowering your heart rate, treat chest pain (angina), and help prevent heart attacks. It can be taken with or without food. Some normal side effects include: dizziness, tiredness, cold hands/feet, and fatigue. Alert your doctor if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, sudden weight gain, and swelling in your lower legs and feet.
Coumadin (Warfarin) is used as a blood thinner. It is used to prevent harmful blood clots from getting worse or from recurring. It does not dissolve blood clots that you already have. Expect trips to the laboratory to test your blood while you are on this medication. It is affected by foods you eat, especially foods that contain lots of Vitamin K. Alert your doctor if you have any signs of abnormal bleeding like blood in your stool or nose bleeds.
All of these medications are usually supposed to be taken daily. Never skip a dose. Most doses start at 10 mg. and go up until the doctor finds the right dosage for you. It usually takes a month or two for your body to adjust to the medication. Always take medication as directed. Do not take other medications without discussing it with your doctor because it can be highly dangerous, and even life threatening. Taking your medication helps to keep you healthy.