Heart Medications Archive


Yoga and high blood pressure

A regular yoga practice may help lower blood pressure. But people with this condition should be cautious about certain poses that place the heart higher than the head (known as inversions).

The changing landscape of LDL lowering drugs

For most people, statins are still the best way to lower harmful LDL cholesterol. But two newer drugs may be promising additions or alternatives for those with stubbornly high LDL levels. Bempedoic acid, which lowers LDL by about 25%, works in a manner similar to statins but may help reduce muscle-related side effects seen with statins. Inclisiran interferes with a protein that’s involved with regulating LDL production in the liver; it lowers LDL by about 50%.

Nitrates in food and medicine: What’s the story?

Nitrates are added to processed meats (such as bacon, ham, and deli meats) and are found naturally in leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and kale). But it’s not clear how crucial these molecules are compared with other components of those foods, as dietary nitrate levels don’t appear to affect heart disease risk. However, nitrate-based drugs are used to treat angina, a common symptom of coronary artery disease.

Living with stable angina

For people with stable angina, which occurs in about two-thirds of people with heart disease, optimal medical therapy is almost always the best treatment. It includes all the medications a person needs to get cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar into a healthy range. Certain medications, including beta blockers, calcium-channel blockers, and nitrates, also help relieve the discomfort of angina.

Have a safe trip!

People with heart-related conditions or risks should take simple precautions when travelling by airplane. These include taking steps to ease stress, such as listening to music or reading a good book; bringing medications in their original containers in carry-on luggage; and not worrying too much about blood clots, which are uncommon during air travel even in people with a history of clots.

Alternatives to warfarin may be safer, more effective for afib

For people with certain types of valvular atrial fibrillation, drugs known as direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) may be safer and more effective than warfarin (Coumadin). DOACs include apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto).

Diastolic blood pressure: Worth a second look?

A diastolic blood pressure reading lower than 60 mm Hg may be linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people at high cardiovascular risk. Diastolic pressure tends to fall with age. Some people with a low reading have a leaky aortic valve, which interferes with normal blood circulation throughout the heart and causes diastolic pressure to fall. But in people with healthy aortic valves who can be physically active without any symptoms (such as chest pressure, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness), a low diastolic blood pressure should not pose a problem.

Blood thinners after a stent: How long?

After receiving a stent, people normally take aspirin and another anti-clotting drug for up to a year afterward and sometimes longer. Doctors adjust the timeline depending on an individual's situation.

Genetic testing to tailor heart drug prescriptions?

Your genes affect how your body responds to many drugs. But pharmacogenomic testing still isn't ready for routine use.

Most genetic tests focus on your odds of developing certain diseases or health conditions. But some — known as pharmacogenomic (or pharmacogenetic) tests — can reveal how your body may respond and react to different medications. To date, researchers have identified more than 400 genetic variations known to affect the metabolism of numerous drugs, including some that help lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots (see "Pharmacogenomics of common heart drugs").

In theory, knowing how people metabolize specific drugs could help doctors choose the safest, most effective treatment for their patients. But in practice, it's not that straightforward, says Dr. Jason Vassy, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

What is bigeminy in a heartbeat?

Ask the doctor

Q. My aunt was having heart palpitations and recently found out that she has bigeminy. According to her doctor, it's not serious. But what exactly is this condition?

A. Bigeminy refers to a heartbeat marked by two beats close together with a pause following each pair of beats. The term comes from the Latin bigeminus, meaning double or paired (bi means two, geminus means twin).

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