5 Medicines to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Last updated: July 2021
Of all the people living with COPD, 20% also have a heart failure (HF) diagnosis. Likewise, people with COPD have a 4.5 times greater risk of developing HF than the general population.1 So, your doctor may make extra efforts to monitor your heart. If needed, there are some medicines to keep your heart healthy. Here is a list of five medicines your doctor may prescribe. As always PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR before starting any new medication.
Hormones and blood
Beta-blockers help keep your blood pressure at normal, safe levels. They are also a top-line treatment for heart failure. Lining your blood vessels are beta-receptors that secrete a substance known as epinephrine. This is a hormone that binds with beta receptors lining your blood vessels. It tells blood vessels to constrict. This causes your blood vessels to be narrow.
Lowering blood pressure
To pump blood through narrow blood vessels, your heart has to work harder. This increases your blood pressure. Beta-blockers bind with beta receptors to prevent epinephrine from binding with them. So, they prevent epinephrine from constricting blood vessels. Blood vessels relax, and your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. This lowers your blood pressure.1-2
Something to note
Beta-blockers are a top-line treatment for treating high blood pressure and heart failure. However, some doctors worry that they may have the opposite effect as beta-agonists used to treat COPD. Beta-agonists (like albuterol) bind with beta receptors lining airways inside your lungs. They mimic the effects of epinephrine to relax airways to make breathing easier.
More research needed
So, for this reason, some doctors are hesitant to use beta-blockers in people with COPD. However, there are also studies showing that beta-blockers are safe for COPD. Still, until further research is done, many COPD doctors continue to avoid this line of medicine.1-3
Angiotensin-Convertin Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
ACE inhibitors also work to help lower your blood pressure. They are also a top-line treatment for heart failure. Like beta-blockers, they work by reducing your blood pressure. They are a good substitute for beta-blockers and prevent your blood vessels from making angiotensin.2 This is a substance that tells your blood vessels to constrict or become narrow. So, ACE inhibitors can relax your blood vessels to lower your blood pressure.1,4
Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARB)
Similar to ACE inhibitors, they reduce the effects of angiotensin II. But, unlike ACE inhibitors, they bind to receptors lining blood vessels that attract angiotensin II. In this way, they block angiotensin II from landing on these receptors. This, in turn, blocks the effects ao angiotensin II, thereby relaxing blood vessels. This then helps to lower your blood pressure.1,6
Heart failure makes your heart a less effective pump which can cause fluid in your blood vessels to get backed up. This makes it so your heart has to pump harder to move the same amount of blood through all your blood vessels. In turn, this causes your blood pressure to be higher than normal.
Diuretics can help to reduce the amount of fluid in your blood. It does this by telling your kidneys to put more salt in your urine. This salty urine draws some fluid from your blood which makes you pee more. It also reduces the amount of fluid volume in your blood vessels. This reduces the amount of heart your heart has to do, thereby reducing your blood pressure.1-5
Statins are medicines that can help lower your cholesterol. They block the effects of chemicals needed to make cholesterol in your liver. So, they work to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase your good cholesterol (HDL). It is important to keep your cholesterol at safe levels, as they are thought to cause plaque buildup in arteries. This can contribute to coronary artery disease, which can increase your risk of heart failure.
Some studies show that COPD patients who received both ACE inhibitors and statins had a lower risk of being admitted to the hospital. Furthermore, they also show a reduced risk for death in those with COPD admitted to the hospital. Statins remain another option for helping to keep your heart healthy.1,7-8
Good to know
These are five medicines used to help keep your heart healthy. Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of these. Which (if any) your doctor chooses will depend on you, and will also be a matter of weighing the potential side effects with potential benefits.
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