Cardiomyopathy and heart failure affect the heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. Your NYU Langone specialist may prescribe medication to improve heart function and manage the symptoms of these conditions.
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Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors—also called ACE inhibitors—may be prescribed for people who have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, which is also called dilated cardiomyopathy. These medications widen, or dilate, blood vessels to improve blood flow. They can help prevent further weakening of the heart by blocking angiotensin, a hormone that can damage the heart.
Your doctor monitors you for common side effects of ACE inhibitors. These include chronic cough and dizziness. Your doctor may also recommend blood testing for other side effects.
Rarely, ACE inhibitors can cause swelling of the face, tongue, or neck—a dangerous problem that requires immediate medical attention. If you experience this symptom, contact your doctor immediately.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers help relax and widen blood vessels and reduce salt and water retention. Our doctors may recommend these medications to people with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors.
Often prescribed in conjunction with ACE inhibitors for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, beta blockers lessen the heart’s workload by preventing the hormone adrenaline from increasing the heart rate in response to stress—also known as the “fight or flight” reaction.
These medications can help protect the heart from further damage over time.
Diuretics may be prescribed for people with any type of heart failure. These medications eliminate excess fluid from the body by encouraging the production of urine. This helps reduce swelling and shortness of breath, which occurs when blood backs up into the lungs.
Side effects can include a loss of potassium from the body and a rise in blood sugar levels. Your doctor monitors you by performing blood testing and may prescribe potassium supplements.
Your doctor may also prescribe mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists, which can help regulate fluid retention while ensuring that potassium levels don’t drop too low. These medications also protect the heart from further damage over time.
If you have reduced ejection fraction heart failure, your NYU Langone doctor may prescribe digoxin to improve the heart’s ability to pump blood. It does so by strengthening contractions and reducing heart rate.
Your NYU Langone cardiologist works closely with your other doctors to plan your medications and prevent side effects or the worsening of a condition. For example, some medications for diabetes are not safe for people with heart failure, so your cardiologist and endocrinologist collaborate to find a safe, alternative treatment.
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