Are heart disease medicines right for me?

Most people who have coronary heart disease need to take medicine as part of their treatment, in addition to making changes to their lifestyle. In fact, if you have more than one problem stemming from your CHD, you may need to take more than one medicine. Here are some of the common reasons doctors prescribe medicine:

  • to control blood pressure
  • to improve blood flow that has decreased as a result of atherosclerosis
  • to lower high cholesterol
  • to make the heart more efficient
  • to reduce the pain of angina
  • to reduce the possibility that a blood clot could cause a heart attack
  • to treat irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmias

Some people mistakenly think that if they don't notice a symptom, such as chest pain, they don't need to take medicines. However, problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol usually don't present any symptoms. You could have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Taking medicine can treat the symptoms you have. It can also treat any hidden damage that a problem such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol may cause.

Are there risks associated with medicines?

Medicines are usually less risky than surgery. They also tend to be less expensive. However, medicines do have side effects. You may need to try several different medicines or combinations of medicines before you and your doctor find the combination that's right for you.

You also need to remember that taking medicines does not replace the need to make positive changes in your life. The medicines and lifestyle choices work together to keep your CHD from getting worse and to lessen the impact it has on your life.

To find out more about the different kinds of medicines you might need to take, see what do I need to know about medicines?

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