Michelle Badash, MS
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medicines as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Calcium channel blockers
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE inhibtors)
Vasodilators help dilate or enlarge blood vessels. People with
have blood vessels that are narrowed, which reduces the amount of blood that can be delivered to the heart muscle. Nitrates or nitroglycerin may be used to immediately relieve an attack of
that is occurring, or prevent or reduce future attacks. Nitrates come in many preparations, including tablets, sprays (for use under the tongue), ointments, or patches for placement on the skin. The tablets or sprays are used at times of anginal episodes, while the ointment or patch is used on a daily basis for prevention of attacks.
Possible side effects include:
These medicines help slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure, especially during exercise. They are intended to prevent anginal attacks or
heart attacks. Beta-blockers are also prescribed when recovering from a heart attack in order to lessen the likelihood of recurrence.
Statins are drugs that help to lower cholesterol levels and decrease inflammation. They are often prescribed to people diagnosed with
coronary artery disease
These medicines may reduce the risk of
These medicines affect the movement of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels open wider (dilate); the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart is increased, while the heart's workload is decreased. This helps to prevent anginal attacks, as well as lessen the possibility of heart attacks.
Antiplatelet agents prevent the formation of blood clots by keeping platelets from clumping and sticking together.
Anticoagulants are given to “thin” the blood, in an effort to prevent the formation of blood clots. The most serious side effect is bleeding.
This medicine, which contains a nitrate, dilates blood vessels due to its effect on potassium flow in the heart cells and blood vessels.
is an anti-anginal medicine that does not depend on reductions in heart rate or blood pressure. It reduces the frequency of anginal chest pain, but has not been shown to reduce heart attacks.
ACE inhibitors work to dilate blood vessels by interfering with the action of angiotensin, a chemical that contracts and narrows blood vessels.
A small, daily dose of
has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack by preventing blood clots from forming. Ask your doctor before taking aspirin daily. A possible side effect of taking aspirin regularly is bleeding in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
If you are taking medicines, follow these general guidelines:
American Stroke Association website. Available at:
http://www.strokeassociation.org/. Accessed June 18, 2009.
Atorvastatin. EBSCO Health Library, Lexi-PALS website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated December 2009. Accessed April 16, 2010.
Coronary artery disease.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Cad/CAD_WhatIs.html. Updated February 2009. Accessed June 18, 2009.
Libby P, Braunwald E.
Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine.
8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2007.
Medications for coronary artery disease and angina. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated November 2009. Accessed April 16, 2010.
Mount Auburn Hospital website. Available at:
Physicians Desk Reference website. Available at:
United States Pharmacopeial Convention.
21st ed. Englewood, CO: Micromedex; 2001.
4/16/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: LaRosa JC, Deedwania PC, Shepherd J, et al. Comparison of 80 versus 10 mg of atorvastatin on occurrence of cardiovascular events after the first event (from the Treating to New Targets [TNT] trial).
Am J Cardiol.
3/5/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: FDA announces safety changes in labeling for some cholesterol-lowering drugs. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm293623.htm. Published February 28, 2012. Accessed March 5, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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