What are the Different Types of Heart Failure Medications?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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There are many types of heart failure medications, some of which act to eliminate problems that contribute to heart failure. For instance, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors work to eliminate a substance that increases blood pressure in order to take strain off the heart. Another category of heart failure medications, called diuretics, work to help excrete unneeded fluids from the body and reduce strain on the heart. Yet another type of medication, which is referred to as an anticoagulant, thins the blood and helps reduce the chance of blood clots that often threaten people who are fighting heart failure.

One of the most common types of heart failure medications are angiotensin-converting enzymes, or ACE inhibitors. These medications work to eliminate a bodily substance called angiotensin, which in turn lowers blood pressure and widens the blood vessels. This medication helps the heart work more effectively and decreases strain, thus reducing the chance of heart failure. There are many potential side effects of ACE inhibitors, such as cough or dizziness due to lowered blood pressure.


Some common heart failure medications are called diuretics, which act on the body in various ways so that the body excretes more waste water than it normally does. These types of heart failure medications help decrease the chance of heart failure by reducing the amount of fluid in the body. This reduction of built-up fluid decreases strain on the heart by reducing the amount of work the heart has to do. Different types of diuretics act on the body in different ways and have varying side effects in addition to fluid loss. For example, some diuretics excrete a considerable amount of calcium or potassium in addition to fluid.

Other heart failure medications are called anticoagulants, which thin the blood and help prevent blood clots and keep blood from pooling in certain parts of the heart. One of the more common and well-known anticoagulants is called Coumadin®, though there are other alternative drugs and substances that can act as anticoagulants. These medications often have side effects such as increased bruising and bleeding from the gums. The reason blood thinners are often considered a type of heart failure medication is because people who are fighting various types of heart failure are usually at considerable risk of developing blood clots. When blood clots develop and move around the body, they can obstruct important blood flow to vital parts of the body like the brain.



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