Diagnosed With Heart Failure? Avoid These Medications…

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States. Studies also show Black people are at a greater risk of developing heart disease. According to the Office of Minority Health, we are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic white people.
What is Heart Failure
Heart failure, or congestive heart failure (CHF), is a health condition where our hearts don’t work as well as they should. Our hearts haven’t stopped beating, but they must work harder to pump blood through our bodies.
It’s common to take medications to treat your heart failure. But there are some meds you should avoid as they make your condition worse by:

Damaging the heart muscle
Increasing your blood pressure
Interacting with your current CHF meds

If you’re living with heart failure or were recently diagnosed, you’ll want to talk with your provider before starting (or continuing) certain medications. Let’s review four types of medications that should be avoided in heart failure.
Medications Used to Treat High Blood Pressure
Diltiazem and verapamil are two medications used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). You might take one of these calcium channel blockers (CCB) to lower your blood pressure. They help relax your blood vessels, which reduces your blood pressure and allows for easier flow of blood.
Studies show that taking these medications can make your heart muscle weak, which makes it harder to pump blood. If you take one of these meds, you’ll want to talk with your provider to ensure it’s still the best option.
Medications Used to Treat Diabetes
You can take pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia) for your Type 2 diabetes. These medications are also known as Thiazolidinediones or TZDs. They lower your blood sugar by helping your body respond better to insulin.
It’s common to gain weight or retain fluid (edema) when taking TZDs. Your condition worsens as the heart tries to remove this excess fluid. If you have heart failure, this medication may not be your best option. Be sure to discuss safer alternatives with your provider.
Medications Used to Treat Inflammatory Conditions
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors are medications used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), and Crohn’s disease (CD). Examples of TNF inhibitors include adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), and golimumab (Simponi). People take these meds to help relieve the symptoms caused by inflammatory conditions.
These medications can cause direct damage to your heart muscle, and are NOT recommended if you have NYHA class III or IV heart failure.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs)
People usually reach for NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) when they have pain or inflammation. These medications are available OTC or with a prescription. But if you have heart failure, it may not be safe for you. NSAIDs can raise your blood pressure and interact with other meds you currently take to treat your heart failure.
Your provider may suggest taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) as an alternative. NSAIDs are not recommended for use in people with heart failure.
Partner With Your Providers
If you have heart failure, talk with your healthcare providers about all your medications, including those you get from the local pharmacy. They can help you identify any potential issues and make sure your meds are safe for you to take. Your pharmacist can help you create a complete medication list and check for interactions. Always share this med list with your healthcare providers at every visit.
 Dr. Kristina D. Carter is a clinical pharmacist and freelance health writer with over 20 years of experience in several practice settings, including managed care, community pharmacy, ambulatory care, senior care, and pharmacy operations.


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