Managing Heart Medications

National Wear Red Day

Today is National Wear Red Day, where women (and men) around the country wear red to raise awareness about the #1 killer of women, heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Managing Your Medications

For those busy women who are at risk and on medications for their heart disease, managing those medications can sometimes take a back seat to the multitude of other life concerns such as managing work and family. This happens for a good reason – managing heart medications can be a big task. According to an article on the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women site:

…heart disease patients rarely have the luxury of taking a one-size-fits-all magic pill. Depending on the types of medications prescribed, each one may treat a different condition. Your doctor may recommend other medicines for you, but these four are typically the ones prescribed: A beta blocker, an anti-coagulant, an ACE inhibitor and a statin. “Together these four medications can lower another heart-related incident by at least one-third,” says Dr. Clyde Yancy, Professor of Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “No other treatment – not even surgery – can do that.”

In some cases, it’s the frustration over not seeing immediate effects that leads so many people to stop taking their medications. But usually, it’s the unexpected side effects, cost or problems getting refills that are the main culprit. But as Dr. Yancy points out, “Medication is the most effective treatment available.”

Improper management and/or interruption in taking those necessary medications, can lead to serious medical problems and in some cases, death. So what’s a busy woman to do?

Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to help you manage your heart medications:

Managing Heart Medications

  • Create a visual aid. If you’re the type of person who needs to write things down in order to stay organized, use a medication chart. Print out multiples and check off each medication after you take it each day. And if you think it will help, tape one to a place you think a reminder will come in handy.
  • Set up electronic reminders. You can also take advantage of an online cardiovascular wellness center, Heart360. It’s an easy-to-use tool from the American Heart Association that helps you record your medications, set goals to improve things like blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and track your progress along the way.
  • Use your smart phone. Use the calendar on your phone to set alarms for medications you need to take at specific times. It’s easy to lose track of time and all of the very necessary and important things you need to do to take care of yourself. But without your health, you can’t do all of those things.
  • Medications don’t get a holiday. Just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean you can take time off from your medications. So when you’re packing, don’t forget to include your heart medications, as well as the chart you created laying out the dosage and times to take each one.

The American Heart Association also recommends diligently maintaining an up to date list of everything you’re taking so that you may properly inform all healthcare providers that you see:

Be sure to tell healthcare professionals about all the medicines you’re taking, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbs. “It’s hard to keep track of all of the medications my patients are taking,” says Dr. Yancy. “Patients are seeing several different doctors, and each one may prescribe something different.” That’s why it’s critical to keep all of your healthcare providers informed by maintaining an up-to-date list. And remember to bring a list to every appointment.

While tedious, proper management of heart medications can mean the difference between a long and active life, and one cut short tragically. Make sure you take the necessary time to take care of your health – if not for yourself, then for those you love.

If you have questions about any of the medications prescribed by your physician or want to talk more about management tips, please don’t hesitate to visit any Owens Healthcare location and speak with one of our pharmacists.