Your GP or cardiology doctor may prescribe drugs to help with your heart condition. They might be used on their own or in conjunction with other therapies such as stents.

This page contains information about drugs used in the treatment of cardiac conditions. It tells you what each of the prescribed drugs will do, what the side effects are and the instructions on how to take them. These may have been prescribed by your GP or following a visit to our outpatient clinic here at the Cardiac Centre.

ACE Inhibitors

These drugs stop a substance called ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) working. They make the blood vessels relax, reducing blood pressure and the work your heart has to do.


This regulates your heartbeat by affecting the rate electrical impulses pass through the heart. To build up the level of amiodarone in your body more quickly you will need to take more tablets at the beginning of your treatment. After a couple of weeks you may only need to take tablets once daily.


Aspirin helps prevent blood clots forming in the blood vessels that feed the heart muscle. Clots can block these vessels causing heart attacks. Low dose (dispersible) Aspirin means that the dose – 75mg, 150mg, or 300mg – taken once per day – is still small compared to that taken for pain relief or fever.


These enable your heart to work more efficiently. They make the heart rhythm more regular and relax the blood vessels. A small dose is usually given at the beginning of treatment and then gradually increased depending upon patient needs.

Calcium-channel blockers

This is a large group of medicines. Each has a slightly different effect on your heart and blood vessels. Some widen the blood vessels, including those that supply your heart.


Clopidogrel helps to prevent blood clots forming in the blood vessels that feed the heart and brain. Clots can block these vessels and may cause heart attacks or strokes.


Digoxin has different effects on your heart. It can make your heart beat more slowly and regularly if you have an irregular heartbeat. It will also strengthen the pumping action of the heart making the heartbeat stronger.


These are used to reduce excess water from your body. They will make you pass water (you will have to go to the toilet more often). Removing excess water will reduce blood pressure. But they also help to reduce the symptoms of heart failure by removing fluid from your lungs, making breathing easier and reducing ankle swelling.


This drug relaxes the muscles in the walls of your veins and arteries, which reduces the workload on your heart, and improves the supply of oxygen to your heart muscle.


Used mainly in the treatment of Angina, Nitrates work by opening up the blood vessels leading to the heart. This increases the blood supply to the heart and prevents or stops chest pain. Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) comes in tablet form and spray container. Both work very quickly to reduce chest pain. Isosorbide mononitrate is a longer lasting tablet which when taken can give round-the-clock prevention from angina attacks.


Spironolactone prevents a substance in your body called ‘aldosterone’ from working. Aldosterone makes your body retain water. By stopping it working, the drug enables your body to retain less water. This reduces the amount of ankle swelling and breathlessness that you may be suffering from.


Sometimes known as Lipostatins or Avrostatins they have roughly the same function and that is to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a fat that can clog up the blood vessels and therefore reduce the blood flow to the heart.


This is used as an anticoagulant – that is to say the drug ‘thins’ the blood, making it difficult for your blood to clot. You will need regular blood tests whilst you are on Warfarin and it is important that you attend for the tests, on time, when they are requested. The tests will be weekly at first, but the frequency will increase once you are on a stable dose.