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 Heart Failure Medications

Listed below are some of the medications prescribed for heart failure. Not all medications are suitable for all patients, and more than one drug may be needed.

Not all patients will develop all of the side effects listed. If you suspect that you are having a side effect, alert your physician.

  • ACE Inhibitors.
    These prevent the production of a chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow. As a result, blood pressure drops and the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood.
    • Side effects may include coughing, skin rashes, fluid retention, excess potassium in the bloodstream, kidney problems, and an altered or lost sense of taste.


  • Digitalis.
    Increases the force of the heart's contractions. It also slows certain fast heart rhythms. As a result, the heart beats less frequently but more effectively, and more blood is pumped into the arteries.
    • Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, confusion, and new heartbeat irregularities.


  • Diuretics.
    These decrease the body's retention of salt and so of water. Diuretics are commonly prescribed to reduce high blood pressure. Diuretics come in many types, with different periods of effectiveness.
    • Side effects may include loss of too much potassium, weakness, muscle cramps, joint pains, and impotence.


  • Hydralazine.
    This drug widens blood vessels, easing blood flow.
    • Side effects may include headaches, rapid heartbeat, and joint pain.


  • Nitrates.
    These drugs are used mostly for chest pain, but may also help diminish heart failure symptoms. They relax smooth muscle and widen blood vessels. They act to lower primarily systolic blood pressure.
    • Side effects may include headaches.

Click here for life after heart failure.

Heart Failure  - Types of Heart Failure - Causes of Heart Failure - Symptoms - How it's Diagnosed Treatments - Common Heart Failure Medications - Life after Heart Failure - Additional Resources






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