Understanding Your Medication

If you have heart disease or stroke, regular medication, along with healthy lifestyle changes, will help to reduce the risk of future health problems. It’s important that you understand your medicines and take them as prescribed.

These four commonly-used medicines work together to help the heart:

  • Beta-blockers: These medications treat high blood pressure and other heart conditions by reducing the heart rate (types include Cardevilol and Metoprolol, among others).
  • Anti-Platelet Medicine: These medications thin the blood in order to reduce the risk of clots (types include Aspirin, Plavix and Effient, among others).
  • ACE inhibitors: This class of medications treats high blood pressure and heart failure by interfering with the body’s production of angiotensin, a chemical in the body that causes the arteries to constrict (types include Lisinopril or Ramipril, among others).
  • Statins: These medications are used to treat high LDL (bad) cholesterol (types include atorvastatin or simvastatin, among others).

Some medicines used to prevent or treat a stroke include:

  • Antiplatelet: This medication helps thin the blood (by making platelets slippery) in order to prevent the formation of blot clots (types include Aspirin, Plavix and Effient, among others).
  • Anticoagulant: This medication helps prevent both new blood clots from forming and/or an existing clot from becoming larger. It’s important to note, however, that it does not dissolve a blood clot (types include warfarin (Coumadin), heparin and Lovenox, among others).
  • Thrombolytic: This medication is used to dissolve blood clots (types include reteplase, streptokinase, and TNKase (tenecteplase), among others).

It’s imperative that you inform all of your healthcare professionals of all the medications you’re currently taking (or have recently taken), including over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal remedies. Bring a current list with you to every appointment.