How to take heart medication
Your doctor may prescribe a variety of heart medications you can take to treat or prevent heart disease. These drugs may help lower your blood pressure, reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood, or help your body get rid of excess fluids that put a strain on your heart’s ability to pump blood.
Heart medication needs vary for each person. Whatever the treatment protocol prescribed to you, it is a good idea to keep the following guidelines in mind when you’re taking heart disease medication.
Here are some tips for taking drugs for your heart disease:
- Know the names of your heart medications and how they work. Know the generic and brand names, dosages, and side effects of your medications. Always keep a list of your medications with you.
- Take your heart medications as scheduled, at the same time every day. Do not stop taking or change your medications unless you first talk with your doctor. Even if you feel good, continue to take your medications. Stopping your medications suddenly can make your condition worse.
- Have a routine for taking your heart medications. Get a pillbox that is marked with the days of the week. Fill the pillbox at the beginning of each week to make it easier for you to remember.
- Keep a medicine calendar and note every time you take a dose. Your prescription label tells you how much to take at each dose, but your doctor may change your dosage periodically, depending on your response to the medication. On your medication calendar, you can list any changes in your drug dosages as prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not decrease your drug dosage to save money. You must take the full amount to get the full benefits. Talk with your doctor about ways you can reduce the costs of your medications.
- Do not take any over-the-counter drugs or herbal therapies unless you ask your doctor first. Some drugs, such as antacids, salt substitutes, antihistamines (including Benadryl and Dimetapp), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs, such as Advil, Motrin, and Indocin), can worsen heart failure symptoms.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, ask your doctor about skipping versus making up the missed dose.
- Regularly fill your prescriptions and ask your pharmacist any questions you have. Do not wait until you are completely out of medication before filling your prescriptions. If you have trouble getting to the pharmacy, have financial concerns, or have other problems that make it difficult for you to get your heart drugs, let your doctor know.
- When traveling, keep your medications with you so you can take them as scheduled. On longer trips, take an extra week’s supply of medications and copies of your prescriptions, in case you need to get a refill.
- Before having surgery with a general anesthetic, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist in charge what heart drugs you are taking. An antibiotic may need to be prescribed prior to your surgical or dental procedure.
- Some heart drugs may alter your heart rate, so take your pulse regularly.
- Medications that relax constricted blood vessels may cause dizziness. If you experience dizziness when standing or getting out of bed, sit or lie down for a few minutes, then get up more slowly.
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