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Coronary Artery Disease (cont.)

Medications

Many people have trouble correctly taking their medicines for coronary artery disease. Often, they need to take several medicines at different times of the day. And some people struggle to afford the medicines. But medicines are often a key part of treatment, and people who do not take them as prescribed have an increased risk of complications and death. For help with taking your medicines properly, see the topics:

Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Dealing With Medicine Side Effects and Interactions.
Reducing Medicine Costs.

Medicines to treat symptoms and prevent complications

If you have symptoms of coronary artery disease, your doctor may prescribe some of the following medicines to control symptoms and, in some cases, slow the progression of the disease:

Anticoagulants, also called blood thinners, may also be used after an angioplasty, atherectomy, or bypass surgery. You might take an anticoagulant if you have heart disease as well as atrial fibrillation or other complications.

What to Think About

Medicines for angina

Stable angina can often be controlled with medicine. For more help with controlling angina, see the topic Quick Tips: Taking Charge of Your Angina and Using Nitroglycerin for Sudden Chest Pain.

If angina symptoms become worse, your doctor may need to adjust your medicines. But if angina symptoms still get worse and medicines don't help, you may need angioplasty or bypass surgery. For angina that gets worse quickly or occurs at rest (unstable angina), you may need hospitalization and urgent angioplasty, stenting, or bypass surgery. For more information, see the topic Heart Attack and Unstable Angina.

Do not use erection-enhancing medicines such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis) if you take nitroglycerin or other nitrates for angina. Combined, these two drugs can cause a serious drop in blood pressure.

If you are taking an erection-enhancing medicine and seek treatment for angina, tell the doctor about your use of this medicine so you don't get nitroglycerin or another type of nitrate. There are other medicines that may work instead to ease your chest pain.

Aspirin

Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and can relieve pain and inflammation. But only aspirin will reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke. Don't substitute ibuprofen or naproxen for low-dose aspirin therapy. If you need to take an NSAID for a long time, talk with your doctor to see if it is safe for you.

For more information, see:

Click here to view a Decision Point.Aspirin: Should I Take Daily Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?
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