Types of medications for heart conditions

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A variety of different medications are used in treating heart conditions. Read about the different classes of medication that may be used.

Key points

  • Blood pressure medications treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Antiarrhythmics treat arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and help prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Anti-inflammatories decrease inflammation or swelling and relieve pain, headaches, and fever.
  • Diuretics help remove extra fluid (edema) that builds up in the body due to heart conditions.
  • Anticoagulants/antithrombotics (or blood thinners) stop clots from forming in the blood.
  • Other types of medications your child might have include minerals, antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering medications, pain relievers, sedatives, prostaglandin E1, erythropoietin, and resuscitation medications.

Medications used in the treatment of heart conditions can be grouped according to the following categories.

Blood pressure medications

These drugs are used to treat high blood pressure, as well as heart failure. They help relax the blood vessels, which reduces how hard the heart has to work.

Blood pressure medications fall into the following categories: beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers (CCBs). Examples include:


These drugs are used to treat arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. They help to prevent abnormal heart rhythms. Examples include:


These drugs decrease inflammation or swelling. They also relieve pain, headaches, and fever. Examples include:


These drugs help to remove extra fluid (edema) that builds up in the body due to heart conditions. The use of these drugs causes frequent urination. Examples include:


These drugs stop clots from forming in the blood. They are also known as blood thinners. Examples include:


These supplements help to replace important minerals that the body needs, and that may be lost through illness or the use of diuretics. Examples include:


These drugs treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria. Examples include:

Cholesterol-lowering medications

These drugs help lower high cholesterol, typically LDL cholesterol. They do so by reducing the production of cholesterol in the body and by boosting the body's ability to remove cholesterol already in the blood.

The main categories are statins, bile acid resins, and niacin. Examples include:

  • lovastatin
  • simvastatin
  • pravastatin
  • atorvastatin

Pain relievers

These drugs aim to relieve pain. Examples include:


These drugs put patients in a relaxed or unconscious state for the purpose of a test or treatment. Examples include:

Prostaglandin E1

Prostaglandin E1 is used in newborns with congenital heart defects to keep the ductus arteriosus open.


Erythropoietin prompts the body to make more red blood cells. It is used to treat anemia caused by a heart condition.

Resuscitation medications

In cases of emergency, the doctor will draw from a selection of drugs with immediate, short-term effects. These are not drugs that parents would see prescribed.

Last updated: December 14th 2009