Tips for Taking Heart Medications

handful of medicine

With all the different medicines available for the things that ail us, keeping track of them can be overwhelming. If you have a heart condition, managing your medicines can be doubly difficult. Chances are that you take more than one medicine daily, whether it’s a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drug. Each medicine may treat a different symptom or problem, and each comes with separate instructions.

Try these tips for taking heart medication to help keep you and your heart healthy.

Talk with your doctor and pharmacist

You need to take all your medicines as directed for them to be most effective. Your doctor and pharmacist can help you better understand the correct amounts and when and how often to take both prescription and OTC medicines. To be fully informed, talk with your doctor. Whether you’re taking prescribed medicines, OTC drugs or both, get the answers to these questions:

  • Should I take this medicine instead of another drug that I’ve been prescribed, or is this an additional treatment?
  • What is this medicine supposed to do for me?
  • What are some common side effects?
  • Does this medication have any interactions with my other prescriptions or OTC medicines?
  • Which foods, supplements and activities could interfere with the effectiveness this medicine?
  • Are there any special storage requirements?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • How long does it take this drug to take effect?

Share information about all the medications you use

The American Heart Association recommends making your doctor and pharmacist aware of all the medicines you take. This means both prescription and OTC medicines. Let your doctor and pharmacist know about any allergies you have. Don’t forget to mention which supplements, herbs or vitamins you use. Some medicines, foods and supplements or vitamins could conflict with each other and cause problems. 

Try to fill your medications at the same pharmacy

If possible, try to go to the same pharmacy each time you fill a prescription. There are benefits to having all of your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy. It will provide the pharmacist with a complete patient profile so they can counsel you on any medication interactions.

For your safety, your pharmacist can monitor the timeliness of your refills and alert you if anything seems out of the ordinary. Work with your pharmacist to make sure you stay on track with your medication use.

It’s also important to try to buy any OTC medicines at the same pharmacy where you get your prescriptions filled. That way, if you have questions about whether an OTC medicine will interact with prescription medicines you take, the pharmacist can let you know because they will have access to your prescription records.

Mind your meds

Keeping track of your medicines on a daily basis is also important. This can become a challenge if you have to take several different medicines each day. But there are ways to help you remember what you have already taken on any given day and what you still need to take. A plastic pillbox marked with days of the week can be very useful. Just be sure to keep the pillbox and all medicines away from children who are in your home or may visit.

Keep a list of the meds you use

This list should include the names and dosages of all the medicines you use, both prescription and OTC. Be sure to include when you should take them. Keep the list in your wallet or on your phone. This way, you always have it with you. It’s also a good idea to put the list in a visible place at home, such as on your fridge.

Associate medication use with certain daily events

Ever find yourself almost forgetting to take a dose of medication? One way to overcome this is to schedule dosing around another daily event, such as with a certain meal, first thing in the morning or at bedtime. 

Upon taking each dose, check off a box on a piece of paper, a calendar or electronically, such as via a medicine tracker app on your smartphone. 

Be consistent

Aim to take your medications at the same time each day. Of course, there are times when you can’t. For instance, you may not feel up to taking your medicine when you feel sick to your stomach or have a cold or the flu. When you can’t take your medicine at the usual time, you might be able to take it later that day. But be sure to ask your doctor first. 

Play it safe

Managing your medicines may be a bit time-consuming. But it’s important if you want to avoid problems from getting too much or too little of what you need. Taking some extra time to keep your prescription and OTC medicines safe and properly taking the medicines your doctor recommends will go a long way to help you stay healthy.