Keeping track of your loved one's heart medicines
Heart disease usually requires a variety of heart medications. If you are caring for a loved one with heart disease, you may need to remind him or her when it’s time to take different drugs, or you may actually need to give out the medication when it’s time to be taken.
Daily Heart Medication Tips:
- Know the names, dosages, and side effects of your heart medications and what they are used for. Always keep a list of the medications with you.
- Heart medications need to be taken as scheduled, at the same time every day. Medications should not be stopped or changed without first consulting with your doctor. Continue taking a heart drug even if you feel better; stopping medications suddenly can make your condition worse.
- Develop a routine for taking your heart drugs. Get a pillbox that is marked with the days of the week, and fill the pillbox at the beginning of each week. This is an easy way to tell when each day’s medications have been taken.
- If a dose is missed, take it as soon as it’s remembered. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, ask your doctor about skipping versus making up the missed dose. Two doses should never be taken to make up for the dose missed.
- Make sure prescriptions are filled regularly, and ask the pharmacist any questions you have. Don’t wait until you’re completely out of medication before filling prescriptions.
Safety Tips for Heart Medication
- Don’t take less heart medication than your doctor prescribes in order to save money. You have to take the full amount in order to get the full benefits. If medication costs are too high, talk with your doctor about ways to reduce the costs.
- Don’t take any over-the-counter medications or herbal therapies until you’ve consulted with your doctor or pharmacist. These drugs can make heart disease symptoms worse and/or change the effect of prescribed medications. Even common drugs such as antacids, salt substitutes, cough/cold/allergy medications (including Benadryl and Dimetapp), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs, such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve) can worsen heart disease symptoms or cause harmful effects when taken with some heart medicines.
- If you’re going to have surgery — including dental surgery — be sure to tell your doctor or dentist what heart medications you’re taking.
Heart Medication Travel Tips:
- Keep heart medications with you when traveling. Don’t pack them in luggage that you don’t plan to keep with you at all times.
- If you’re taking a long trip, pack an extra week’s supply of medications, the phone number of your pharmacy, and your prescriptions’ refill numbers in case you need a refill.
Tips for Specific Heart Medications:
- Heart medications that relax constricted blood vessels may cause dizziness. If you get dizzy when standing or getting out of bed, sit or lie down for a few minutes, then get up more slowly.
- ACE inhibitors may cause or increase cough. If coughing is keeping you up at night or interfering with your daily activities, contact your doctor.
- Diuretics (“water pills”) increase how often you go to the bathroom. If you take a single dose of diuretic each day, take it in the morning. If you take two doses of a diuretic each day, take the second dose no later than late afternoon so you can sleep through the night.
- Diuretics can also cause dehydration (excessive loss of water). Signs of dehydration are: dizziness, extreme thirst, dry mouth, less urine output, dark-colored urine, or constipation. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor. Don’t just assume that you need more fluids.
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