Drug class: vasodilators

Generic (Brand) names: hydralazine (Apresoline), isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil), isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur)

In heart failure, the weakened heart cannot send enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.

These medications are in a drug class known as vasodilators. They may be prescribed as a single combination pill or as two separate pills that you take together. In combination, these drugs are specifically prescribed to treat heart failure.

Hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate relax your blood vessels. This allows blood to circulate through your body more efficiently. The drug also helps to slow harmful changes in the shape of your heart muscle.

These drugs may be prescribed if you cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

African-Americans may benefit from taking these drugs in addition to an ACE inhibitor or ARB.

These drugs make it easier for your heart to pump blood. They help increase your ability to exercise and relieve nighttime breathlessness.

These drugs improve quality of life, reduce hospitalizations, and improve survival.

Side effects may include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Your provider will have told you what dose of this medication to take, and how many times per day to take it. The label on your medication bottle should also tell you how many pills to take, and how often.

Over time, your provider may adjust your dose.

Make sure the dose you need to take matches the strength of the tablets in your bottle. If the strength of your tablet does not match the dose you have been prescribed, you may need to split the pill and have only part of it, or take more than one pill. Always remember to consult your provider if you are unclear about what your most recent dose of vasodilator should be.

These medicines are taken three times a day with or without food

Tell your provider if you experience side effects. He or she may be able to switch you to a different drug or adjust your dose.

These drugs can cause dangerously low blood pressure in men taking certain medications for erectile dysfunction.

Your provider may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home to make sure it is not too low.

You may not feel different in the short term if you do not take this medication as directed. However, over time, you will feel worse and your heart failure will progress.