Heart Failure Medications | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines
Mother and Daughter spending time together

TAKE Your Medicine

Heart Failure Medicine

Why do I need to take pills to manage my heart failure?

Taking medicine can help you to:

  • Live longer
  • Feel better
  • Stay out of the hospital

What pills do I need to take?

Diuretic or water pill 

  • Helps your body get rid of extra water in your lungs, ankles, and legs
  • Makes you urinate more often

You may have some side effects:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling weak
  • Low potassium
  • Leg cramps

ACE Inhibitor / ARB

  • Helps your blood vessels relax and helps your heart pump

You may have some side effects:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Dry cough
  • High or low potassium
  • Swelling of your tongue or throat


  • Lowers blood pressure and slows your heart rate

You may have some side effects:

  • Feeling tired or dizzy

Aldosterone Antagonist 

  • Blocks the effects of aldosterone, a stress hormone

You may have some side effects:

  • High potassium
  • Larger or tender breasts in men and women


  • Makes your heart beat stronger

You may have some side effects:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred or yellow-tinted vision
  • Uneven heart beat
  • Feeling dizzy or passing out


  • Relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow
  • Decreases how hard your heart works

You may have some side effects:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting

Take Your Medicines

  • Do take your medicines for heart failure each day
  • Do take your pills how your doctor tells you
  • Do get lab work done and make your doctor visits
  • Do use a pillbox and/or a medicine chart to remind you to take your pills

Caution: Take Action

Talk to your doctor if you think your pills are causing you to notice

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Very weak or tired
  • Leg cramps
  • Dry cough
  • Blurred or yellow-tinted vision
  • Nausea  or vomiting
  • Headache

Call your doctor as soon as you can if you are taking your pills and you feel worse Avoid medicines or supplements that can make heart failure worse

  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) or Aspirin (for pain)
  • Over-the-counter potassium, unless prescribed
  • Some prescription calcium channel blockers or anti-arrhythmic medicines
  • Herbal supplements (such as Ma Huang, St John's Wort)
  • Salt substitutes

DO talk with your doctor or  pharmacist before taking over the counter medicines

DO talk with your pharmacist and know what to do if you miss a dose of your medicine

DO tell other health care providers you have heart failure

DO keep medicines out of the reach of children

Emergency: Care is Needed

Go to the Emergency Room or call 911 if you notice:

  • Swelling of your tongue or throat                 
  • Hard to breathe
  • Uneven heart beat                                          
  • Slow heart rate that leads to feeling dizzy or passing out
  • Chest pain that is not normal for you   
  • You are confused or cannot think clearly

Next: Call Your Doctor if Key Symptoms Recur