Better medications have made it easier to take care of coronary artery disease in recent years. Two in particular, beta-blockers and statins, have helped many people stay healthy and avoid heart attacks.
Beta-blockers are among the most commonly used drugs for controlling high blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart. They slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease the amount of work the heart must do. By lowering the heart's oxygen needs, beta-blockers may help prevent or relieve poor blood flow.
Beta-blockers can cause side effects such as decreased sexual ability and fatigue in some patients. People with asthma, heart disease, or diabetes should be cautious about taking them because they can worsen these conditions. Newer beta-blockers, however, are less likely to cause side effects.
Statins are the most frequently prescribed type of cholesterol-lowering drugs. They block a key liver enzyme involved in cholesterol production. This helps restrict the amount of cholesterol that can be deposited into the blood. It also increases the amount of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol that can be removed from the blood. Studies have shown that people who use statins have a reduced risk for heart attack, stroke, chest pain, and death from a heart-related condition.
Statins have few known side effects, but in rare cases they can damage the liver and muscles. Statins can also make people drowsy, constipated, or nauseous, although these side effects are uncommon. One plus is that these drugs do not appear to interfere with the other medications that people with heart disease often take. And they require only a single daily dose.
Talk with your health care provider if you have questions about either of these types of medication.
© 2014 Main Line Health