Hormone-blocking medication helps people with heart failure

Aldosterone is a hormone that helps regulate sodium and potassium in the kidneys, which in turn affects fluid retention and blood flow and pressure. A high level of aldosterone may be due to a tumor that increases production of the hormone, or it could be the result of overactive adrenal glands. Too much aldosterone can cause cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle) as well as arrhythmias and other heart conditions.

Aldosterone antagonists are drugs that block the effects of aldosterone. They are commonly prescribed to people with heart failure. By balancing the water, salt, and potassium in your body, these drugs can help lower blood pressure and protect your heart.

Two common names for this type of drug are spironolactone (Aldactone®) and eplerenone (Inspra®). By taking this medication, people with heart failure may experience improved quality of life, fewer hospital visits, and prevention of worsening of symptoms.

As with any medication, however, aldosterone blockers may cause some side effects. And because they may cause an increase in potassium, you will need to be extra cautious about eating potassium-rich foods or taking potassium supplements or salt substitutes.

Your doctor will advise you about the benefits and risks of taking aldosterone antagonists and will help you determine whether this type of medication is right for you.

To schedule an appointment with a Lankenau Heart Institute specialist, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.