Diuretics for congenital heart defects

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Diuretics for congenital heart defects


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How It Works

Diuretics cause the kidneys to remove water and salt (sodium) from the body. This reduces the amount of fluid in the body and lowers blood pressure. Diuretics increase urination. So they are commonly called "water pills."

Why It Is Used

In children who have congenital heart defects, diuretics often are given to treat symptoms of heart failure. Diuretics allow the heart to function more efficiently, which helps improve breathing difficulty and swelling.

How Well It Works

Diuretics reduce the amount of extra water in the body. So they relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of diuretics include:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Reduced levels of chemicals (such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium) in the blood. Low potassium can lead to irregular heartbeats.
  • Weakness.
  • Dehydration.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Some diuretics need to be taken with potassium pills or with a diet that has enough potassium (found in citrus fruits, bananas, tomatoes, and other foods).

A person may need regular blood tests while taking diuretics to monitor the levels of chemicals such as potassium in the blood.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised January 26, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.