8 COMMON CARIO MEDS AND THEIR SIDE EFFECTS

8 COMMON HEART MEDSTraditional medications for cardiovascular disease include the following top 8 groups of medications. Each comes with benefits and risks. Our goal at Revivelife™ is to focus on advanced Integrative Cardiology testing, lifestyle changes and natural remedies to work through prevention and in some cases reversal for optimal heart health.

1. Statins

Common Types: Crestor, Lipitor, Advicor, Mevicor,  Simcor, Altoprev, Lescol, Pravacol, Zocor, Caduet and Vytorin.

Statins are by far one of the most often prescribed medications to lower cholesterol. Statins act by blocking HMG-CoA reductase the enzyme in your liver responsible for making cholesterol.

However they may not be as safe as people are lead to believe. Firstly, by blocking HMG-CoA reductase statins will  also block the formation of CoQ10 a powerful antioxidant and nutrient needed for energy production. Your heart in particular has a higher energy requirement for CoQ10 to function optimally. Produced mainly in your liver, it also plays a role in maintaining blood glucose.

There are now over 900 studies proving their side effects.1 Noted side effects of statins include: muscular problems, nerve damage, acidosis, immune dysfunction, pancreas dysfunction, liver dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, cataracts, anemia, memory loss, diabetes and potentially cancer.1

The impact of statins and hormone health is also significant. Statin drugs interfere with an early step in the mevalonate pathway, which is the central pathway for the steroid management in your body. This effects all of your sex hormones, cortisone, dolichols (keep the interior of cell membranes healthy) and all sterols (including cholesterol and vitamin D which is produced from cholesterol in your skin. Vitamin D improves insulin resistance and thus further assists blood sugar regulation. Deficiencies in cholesterol thus contribute to blood sugar problems including diabetes.

2.  Aspirin & Antiplatelets

Common Types: Aspirin & Plavix (antiplatelet clopidogrel)

Both are medications that help to stop prostaglandins to prevent blood clots.  Plavix is stronger than aspirin and is often prescribed in combination with aspirin.  They’re often prescribed after a patient has had a heart attack or stroke. Common side effects are: increased risk of internal bleeding and thus a proton pump inhibitor may also be prescribed to protect the stomach lining.

3. Diuretics (water pills)

Common Types: Lasix, Bumex, Demadex, Diuril, Midamor, Chlorthalidone, Esidrix, Hydrodiuril, Lozol, Zaroxolyn, Dyrenium

Diuretics reduce fluid and thus ease the pressure in the arteries and reduce the workload to the heart. They also reduce sodium buildup in the lungs and other areas of the body. They are often the first drug of choice for high blood pressure. The most common side effects include:  increased urination,  too low blood pressure (causing dizziness),  headaches,  increased thirst, muscle cramps; gout (rare), menstrual changes; and impotence. It is important to monitor fluid levels, kidney function, potassium, magnesium and or calcium while using diuretics.

4. ACE Inhibitors (Angiotension-Converting Enzyme)

Common Types: Prinivil, Accupril, Monopril, Capoten, Vasotec, Aceon, Altace, Mavik &  Zestril

ACE Inhibitors block the production of a hormone called angiotensin II, which causes arteries to constrict. They are used to lower blood pressure (BP) moderately. If a more significant reduction of BP is required a diuretic may also be prescribed.  Potential risks include:   a too-steep drop in BP which may cause dizziness and fainting, dry cough, reduced kidney function and increased potassium (which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms), swelling of the face and throat,

5. Beta-Blockers (Beta-Adrenergic Blocking Agents)

Common Types: Toprol-XL, Coreg CR, Zebeta, and others

Beta-blockers work to slow down the heart rate and decrease the strength of heart contractions. This reduces the stress on the heart. They are often prescribed for those who have had high blood pressure (historically), ventricular arrhythmia, a heart attack or have congestive heart failure.  The side effects may include: fatigue, nausea, depression,  excess slowing of the heart rate leading to dizziness or fainting and constriction of airways (thus are contraindicated in those with chronic lung disease or asthma).

6. Calcium Channel Blockers

Common Types: Norvasc, Cardizem, Tiazac, Cardene SR, Procardia, Sular, Calan, Verelan, Covera-HS, and others.

These medications prevent calcium from getting into cells of the heart and blood vessel walls.  They allow the heart to pump more easily by relaxing and widening blood vessels so that the heart is able to pump more easily. Some can also slow the heart rate. Calcium channel blockers are often prescribed for irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and angina (chest pain). They also lower blood pressure.  Common side effects include: constipation or diarrhea, dizziness,  rapid heartbeat, flushing or feeling warm, nausea, headaches,  fatigue, swelling in the feet and lower legs and potentially reduction of your body’s ability to clear the medication from the body, allowing for an unsafe build-up.

7. Anticoagulants (blood thinners)

Common Types: Coumadin

Anticoagulants thin the blood thereby helping to prevent the formation of blood clots. They are commonly prescribed for heart failure patients who also have atrial fibrillation (a common type of arrhythmia).  They block vitamin K, a nutrient that the liver uses to produce clotting proteins. Possible side effects include too much or too little blood thinning which may be influenced by foods that increase vitamin K such as leafy, green vegetables or other medications.  Your medical team will track your INR to ensure that the dose is right for you.

8. Vasodilators (nitrates)

Common Types: Nitroglycerin, Apresoline, minoxidil, Isordil, Natrecor

Vasodilators dilate blood vessels so blood flows more easily and your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. They are most often prescribed after heart failure,  pulmonary hypertension (blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs),  high blood pressure during pregnancy or childbirth and less often to treat high blood pressure (generally as a last resort medicine when other blood pressure medications haven’t worked).  Common side effects include:  headaches, dizziness, flushing, varying degrees of sodium and water retention (edema), facial changes, excessive hair growth, allergic reactions, chest pain, rapid heart beat, palpitations and increased risk of developing lupus (rare).

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References

  1. Golomb BA1, Evans MA.,Statin adverse effects: a review of the literature and evidence for a mitchondrial mechanism, Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2008;8(6):373-418. doi: 10.2165/0129784-200808060-00004.,PMID:19159124, PMC2849981

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