For Your Cardiomyopathy Patients: Making the Most of Drug Therapy
Medications are the backbone of treating cardiomyopathy to help you feel better and live longer. Your healthcare team will work with you to optimize your diet; you play a key role in sticking to your medications and reporting any side effects that occur.
Common classes of drugs used in types of cardiomyopathy include:
- Drugs that reduce pressure on the heart and improve blood flow by lowering blood pressure and reducing neurohormonal activation, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, receptor antagonists angiotensin (ARA) and beta-blockers
- Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, a class of drugs originally used to treat diabetes, but which target cardiometabolic conditions through various mechanisms and have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death or worsening heart failure
- Inhibition of angiotensin-neprilysin receptors with sacubitril/valsartan (Entresto), which combines an ARB with another class of drugs that act on blood vessels to inhibit constriction and promote dilation
- Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists and other diuretics to reduce fluid retention that tires the heart and can make it difficult to breathe
- Medicines that control the rate or rhythm of heartbeats
- Blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots
It is important to speak with your healthcare team before stopping any medication on your own or deciding to skip doses to save money. A study of heart failure patients showed that people who took less than 80% of their pills were twice as likely to die or be hospitalized for heart failure over the course of approximately 1 year. If side effects or cost issues arise, other treatment options can be discussed.
Adhering to your medication regimen is the best way to reap health benefits and may even lead to substantial improvements in heart function in some patients. Consider putting systems in place to help you remember to take your medications on time. Smartphone app pill organizers and reminders can help. If your insurer allows mail-order delivery, ask for a 90-day supply of medication to reduce barriers to filling your prescriptions. Another option may be to schedule all your refills at the same time each month at the same pharmacy, which will allow you to make a single trip to collect them.
Read previous episodes of this series:
Understanding Your Cardiomyopathy Diagnosis
What to expect when your doctor suspects cardiomyopathy
How to prepare for your cardiomyopathy appointment
Should I also screen my family for cardiomyopathy?
Maximizing your well-being with cardiomyopathy
Facing a difficult diagnosis
“Medical Journeys” is a collection of physician-reviewed clinical resources for physicians and other healthcare professionals and the patients they serve. Each episode of this 12-part journey through a medical condition contains both a doctor’s guide and a downloadable/printable patient resource. “Medical pathways” chart a path at every stage for doctors and patients and provide ongoing resources and support as the healthcare team navigates the course of an illness.