If you have heart disease or you want to prevent it, your doctor may suggest drugs that help. They can lower your blood pressure, cut your cholesterol levels, or get rid of extra fluid in your body that puts a strain on the way your heart pumps.
You and your doctor will work together to find the best choice for you. Whichever meds you use, follow some simple tips to help you take them safely and on schedule.
Preventing a heart attack is a lot easier when you -- and your doctor -- know exactly what's going on in the vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Are they blocked with plaque or free-flowing? To find out, your doctor may recommend a high-tech imaging test that shows a clear image of your arteries. Here's what you need to know about them.
First off, learn about the medicine your doctor prescribes. Know the names, dosages, and side effects of the drugs and what they're used for. Always keep a list of the medications with you.
Don't stop or change your medicines without talking to your doctor first. Continue the drug even if you feel better. If you stop medications suddenly it can make your condition worse.
It's important to take your medicines on schedule -- at the same time every day. To stay on top of things, get a pillbox marked with the days of the week. Fill it up at the start of the week.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it's almost time for the next one, it's OK to skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. But don't take two doses to make up for the one you forgot to take.
Make sure you refill your prescriptions on time. Don't wait until you're completely out before you go to the pharmacy.
Don't take less medication than your doctor prescribes in order to save money. You need to take the full amount to get the drug's benefits. If you're worried that you may not be able to afford your meds, talk to your doctor about ways to lower the costs.
Also check with your doctor before you take any over-the-counter drugs or herbal treatments. They may have side effects, make the symptoms of your heart disease worse, or make your other meds less effective.
For example, some common drugs that don't mix well with heart medications are:
Cough, cold, or allergy drugs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen)
If you're going to have surgery and will be put to sleep with anesthesia, make sure you tell your surgeon about the heart drugs you take.