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Home >> Knowing About Heart Diseases  

 Knowing About Heart Diseases

Knowing about heart disease is, of course, your doctor's job. But it is important that you keep up with the medical developments as well, especially nowadays, when doctors are facing increasing limits in the amount of time they can spend with their patients. You need to know how to talk with your doctor in the most effective way possible, to get the information you need. Also, you are likely to be faced with choices about your medical care. This is especially true in dealing with heart disease, when there is often more than one 'correct' treatment. By keeping up with medical developments, you will know the right questions to ask so you can take the right decision about your heart's care.

The good news is that there has been a veritable explosion of medical information in the media. Nowadays, almost every newspaper has a health section. Health news is a staple on radio and television as well. But along with this information explosion has come a great deal of misinformation as well. Learn to distinguish between the necessary and unnecessary information, and learn to discern the medical information which applies to you.

You should keep abreast of the latest medical advancements, and your doctor should welcome your interest. Even if what you learn does not apply in your case, it can open the way to a useful discussion, and give you increased understanding about the active role you can play in your heart's care. There are different ways to keep up with medical news. Increasingly, a number of medical centers are publishing newsletters for the general public. Nowadays, these studies are also appearing in the evening news. With so much information available in the media, it becomes difficult to judge which information has to be picked up and which has to be left out. Visit your local library and learn how to access articles of interest in medical journals.

Even highly intelligent people who have chronic conditions such as heart disease may be lured by marketers of unproven cures. But before you are tempted by the latest fad, wait. Sometimes these treatments will cost you a lot, but are a complete waste. Today, there are many effective treatments and drugs in the market. It was not always that way. In the early days, medicine could offer little more than 'placebos'. A placebo, defined as a substance without any ingredients, maybe a pill, sham surgery, or some other treatment. But, despite this, the patient often feels better. This is known as a 'placebo' effect.
Proponents of quack cures use this placebo effect to their advantage. They offer testimonials from people who maintain they have been cured or that their condition has improved. Be skeptical. Evaluating a treatment for heart disease can be difficult. Symptoms such as chest pain tend to come and go. What appears to be the beneficial effect of a treatment might not necessarily be so. To know if a treatment really works, researchers subject it to scientific testing to eliminate the placebo effect. Discuss all the treatments you are following with your doctor.


In the history of cardiology, the development of cardiovascular drugs may not seem as dramatic as the invention of procedures such as coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty, but it is indeed thanks to these drugs that many people with heart disease lead active lives. Another great area of interest to people with heart disease is vitamins. Research conducted recently shows that some vitamins indeed may afford benefits when it comes to heart disease, although research is still ongoing. If you are a woman, you are probably aware of the issue of hormone replacement therapy, and you are wondering whether this treatment would help your heart. Read on for this essential information on all these topics.


'Take your medicine' sounds simple, but studies show many people do not take their cardiovascular medications, resulting in illness and even death. Some people simply refuse to take drugs, finding them 'unnatural.' This is ironic, as often these same people will down vitamins and nutritional supplements by the handful, not realizing that some can have adverse effects. Other people shy away from taking their pills because of the cost or unpleasant side effects. It is essential that you know about the type of drugs you are prescribed, what they do, and their potential side effects.


These drugs provide relief from the chest pain which sometimes accompanies heart disease:
Nitrates: Among the oldest heart medicines, nitrates provide temporary relief from chest pain by dilating your blood vessels. They are available in pill or capsule form, or as a skin patch.
Beta Blockers: These drugs block the effects of adrenaline, slow your heart rate, reduce the squeeze of your cardiac muscle and lower your blood pressure.

Calcium-Channel Blockers: These drugs affect the squeeze of your heart and relax your blood vessels. They are also excellent at lowering high blood pressure and regulating irregular heart rhythms.

Diuretics: Once prescribed alone, today diuretics are often used as a backup or in combination with other drugs to treat high blood pressure. They are also commonly used to help treat heart failure and fluid retention.

ACE Inhibitors: Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, commonly called ACE inhibitors are effective in treating different types of heart problems, including treating of congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.

Cardiac Strengtheners: These drugs are used to strengthen your heart muscle and improve its function. The major example is digoxin (Lanoxin), which helps in treating heart failure and controlling certain types of heart rhythm disturbances.

Blood Thinners: The only commonly available blood thinner, Wafarin (Coumadin and others), is a strong substance which interferes with your blood's normal coagulation. Wafarin is commonly used for people with mechanical heart valves or to prevent stroke in people who suffer from atrial fibrillation, a common type of heartbeat irregularity. Aspirin, although technically not a blood thinner, does block the formation of blood clots.

Rhythm Stabilizers: These correct an irregular heartbeat or slow your heart if it is beating too fast. Beta blockers are commonly used as rhythm-stabilizing drugs.

Generic drugs: One of the objections many people have to taking cardiovascular drugs is their expense. So if you are watching your wallet (and who is not?), you may wonder whether less expensive generic drugs are just as good for heart problems.

Many generic drugs provide the same, or nearly the same, therapeutic action as their brand name counterparts. But when it comes to heart drugs, you need to be very cautious. Some generic drugs may be acceptable. But some can cause problems, particularly those substances which must be maintained at certain critical levels in the blood to be effective. These include digoxin, quinidine, and wafarin. This does not necessarily mean you should rule out generic forms of these drugs. But your doctor should keep a watch for any adverse effects.

In addition, generic drug formulas can vary slightly among manufacturers. So, if you are taking a generic drug, be sure to ask your pharmacist each time you get a refill whether the generic drug is made by the same company that you had purchased earlier. If there is a switch to another manufacturer, talk Ik to your doctor so you can be on the lookout for any possible adverse effects. Also, if you are taking a brand name drug, but would like to switch to a generic first discuss it with your doctor.


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