Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Drugs

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on September 15, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on September 15, 2014

Coronary Artery Disease

Treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD) is meant to control symptoms and stop or slow the progression of the disease. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough, your doctor may prescribe medications. Drugs can play an important role in treating the complications of CAD. For example, cardiac drugs can control high blood pressure and promote blood flow in patients with heart failure. According to the Cleveland Clinic, medication may be the first line of treatment if artery blockage is less than 70 percent and is not severely limiting blood flow.

Medications to Treat Angina

Your doctor may prescribe short- or long-acting nitrates to reduce pain if you have angina. Nitroglycerin dilates blood vessels and allows the heart to pump blood with less effort. Beta blockers are also often prescribed to patients with angina.

Medications to Suppress Platelet Activity

Blood clots are formed in the body by the buildup of red blood cells (platelets). Drugs that suppress platelet activity make it more difficult for them to form clumps within the arteries. This reduces the likelihood of heart attack or recurrent heart attack. Some examples of this type of medication include:

  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • eptafibitide (Integrilin)
  • heparin
  • ticlopidine (Ticlid)

Of these medications, only aspirin is prescribed on a preventive basis to reduce risk. The other medicines listed here are generally given after a small mesh tube (stent) has been placed in an artery. They reduce platelet aggregation in the stent and are used for the short-term to suppress platelet activation.

Medications to Reduce Cholesterol

If you are unable to lower your cholesterol through a healthy diet and increased physical activity, your doctor may prescribe daily medications to help keep your levels stable. Examples of drugs that can help reduce your cholesterol include:

Bile Acid Sequestrants

  • cholestyramine (Questran)
  • colesevelam hydrochloride (WelChol)
  • colestipol hydrochloride (Colestid)
  • clofibrate (Atromid-S)
  • fenofibrate (Tricor)
  • gemfibrozil (Lopid)
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)
  • (Niaspan, Nicolar)

Fibrates

  • clofibrate (Atromid-S)
  • fenofibrate (Tricor)
  • gemfibrozil (Lopid)

Statins

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

Niacin

  • (Niaspan, Nicolar)

Beta Blockers

If you’ve had a heart attack in the past, your doctor may prescribe something in this group of medication. Beta blockers can slow your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure. This reduces your risk for future heart attacks.

Some examples of beta blockers include:

  • atenolol (Apo-atenolol)
  • carvedilol (Coreg)
  • metoprolol (Toprol)
  • nadonol (Corgard)
  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • timolol (Blocadren)

Calcium Channel Blockers

These medications work in two ways. First, they help to control blood pressure from rising. Second, they relax the vessels of the heart, which allows blood to flow more easily to your heart. Some examples of calcium channel blockers include:

  • amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • bepridil (Vascor)
  • felodipine (Plendil)
  • isradipine (DynaCirc)
  • nicardipine (Cardene)
  • nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • nimodipine (Nimotop)

ACE Inhibitors and ARBs

Antgiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) act on the angiotensin system of the kidneys. They work to prevent increases in blood pressure and to prevent the remodeling of the heart that can occur in response to the stress of heart attack. These types of medications can lower your risk for future strokes or heart attacks.

Some examples of ACE inhibitors include:

  • benazepril (Lotensin)
  • captopril (Capoten)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • fosinopril (Monopril)
  • lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • moexipril (Univasc)
  • perindopril (Aceon)
  • quinapril (Accupril)
  • ramipril (Altace)
  • trandolapril (Mavik)

Some examples of ARBs include:

  • irbesartan (Avapro)
  • losartan (Cozaar)
  • telmisartan (Micardis)
  • valsartan (Diovan)
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