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Heart Failure Preparation & Management

Daignosing Heart Failure Building a Team Optimal Medicine Therapy Minimally Invasive Surgery Invasive Surgery Recovery
Diagnosing A Heart Condition Building A Team Optimal Medicine Therapy Minimally Invasive Surgery Invasive Surgery Recovery

Optimal Medicine Therapy

One possibility in handling Heart failure effectively is optimal medicine therapy. The most popular treatment medications at present are ACE Inhibitors and Beta Blockers.


ACE Inhibitors, very simply are medications that are designed to lower blood pressure. They work by relaxing the arteries, capillaries, and veins, allowing blood and oxygen to circulate at a more normal rate. To understand exactly how they work one must first comprehend the problem.

The Angiotensin Converting Enzyme, thus ACE, converts Angiotensin I into Angiotensin II in the blood. Angiotensin II is a powerful hormone that causes muscle contraction around blood vessels. The pressure on the blood vessels causes them to become narrow and can result in creating high blood pressure (hypertension).

ACE Inhibitors aid in decreasing the production of Angiotensin II by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme. Obviously, when the pressure on the blood vessels is lessened they become wider allowing blood to flow more freely and lower blood pressure.

The result is the heart being able to pump more effectively and allowing blood to circulate freely.

It should be noted that ACE Inhibitors are generally very well tolerated with the exception of possibly causing a chronic cough, reduced kidney function or slight rash or itchiness. They may be prescribed with a diuretic. If ACE Inhibitors are taken with any other medications your physician should be consulted and any negative side effects should be closely monitored.

Less common side effects include tingling, dizziness, sleep disturbances, headache, chest or abdominal pain, or nausea.

Common brand names (followed by generic name in parenthesis) for Ace Inhibitors include, but are not limited to: Capoten (captopril), Lotensin (benazepril), Mavik (trandolapril), Prinivil (lisinopril), Univasc (moexipril), and Vasotec (enalapril).

Always consult your physician and your pharmacist for possible negative side effects. Find the right ACE Inhibitor for you.


Beta Blockers (Beta-adrenergic Blocking Agents) are used to prevent chest pain (angina), alleviate high blood pressure (hypertension), restore normal heart rhythms, and in some cases, to prevent further heart attacks.

They are designed to block compounds, such as adrenaline-which is a substance secreted involuntarily by the adrenal gland when the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This action affects the nervous system and causes increased heart muscle activity.

Beta Blockers help relieve strain on the heart by blocking the involuntary nervous system. They function to reduce blood vessel constriction throughout the body, specifically the heart and brain. They may also be used on people who have suffered a heart attack.

Beta Blockers do not usually produce major negative side effects. However, if a person suffers from asthma, severe heart failure, liver or kidney disease, or ventricular arrhythmias, they could possibly be directed to a different medicine or surgery. Like ACE Inhibitors, they may also be prescribed with a diuretic.

If a patient does suffer from side effects they are relatively mild. The less common side effects may include, but are not limited to a slow heartbeat, unusual tiredness, and difficulties with breathing, memory loss, nausea, or impotency.

Common brand names (followed by generic names in parenthesis) for Beta Blockers include, but are not limited to Corgard (nadolol), Blocadren (timolol), Lopressor (metoprolol), Sectral (acebutolol), and Zebeta (bisoprolol).

Always consult your physician and your pharmacist for possible negative side effects, especially if you are taking other medications.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The Heart Failure Center does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The contents of The Heart Failure Center Site ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any symptoms you may have. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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