Introduction

Medicines do not cure
heart failure. But they can make you feel better, help
your heart work better, and help you live longer.

  • Take a list of your medicines or bring your
    medicines with you when you visit your doctor. Make sure
    to include any nonprescription medicines and natural supplements
    that you take. Talk about any side effects you are having or need to watch
    for.
  • Make your medicine schedule as simple as possible. Plan times
    to take your medicines when you are doing other things, like eating a meal or
    getting ready for bed. This will make it easier for you to remember to take
    your medicines.
  • Talk with your doctor if you are having problems
    with when to take your medicine. Your doctor may be able to change your
    medicines or the times you take them.
  • Talk with your doctor
    if you have any changes in your health that might affect your heart
    failure, such as weight gain, side effects of medicines,
    or another health problem.
  • Use tools like
    daily or weekly pill boxes to make taking your medicines
    simpler.

How can you take your medicines properly?

Here’s how
you can get started on taking your medicines properly.

Make a medicine plan

Talk with your doctor about:

  1. What medicines you
    take.
    Find out what each medicine does.
    If you understand what you are taking, it may be easier to
    follow your schedule. Write down both the
    brand name and
    generic name for your medicines. Have your doctor
    check the list. You can use this list to make sure that
    the medicines you get from the drugstore are
    correct.
  2. Your medicine schedule. Be sure you
    understand how much of each medicine to take and when to take each one. Ask
    your doctor if you can make your pill schedule
    simpler. You may be able to substitute longer-acting
    medicines for shorter-acting ones. Longer-acting, once-a-day medicines are
    easier to remember to take.
  3. How to handle missed doses. Talk with your doctor about what you should do if you
    accidentally miss a dose of a medicine. Discuss what to do for each medicine,
    because it may be different for each one.
  4. Your medicine costs. Ask your doctor if you can take generic medicines that
    cost less than brand names. Compare prices between several
    drugstores, and think about buying your
    medicines by mail.
  5. Medicines to avoid. You may need to avoid certain medicines. Many nonprescription
    medicines, prescription medicines, and natural supplements can make symptoms of
    heart failure worse. Or they may react with your
    heart failure medicines. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about medicines that may make heart failure symptoms worse,
    and write down those that you should not take. Check with your doctor before
    you take any medicines on this list.
  6. Tests to monitor your medicine. You may have regular blood tests to monitor how the medicine is working in your body. You may have to test to check how much medicine is in your body. Your doctor will likely let you know when you need to have the tests. Your doctor wants to be sure that your medicine isn’t harming you and that you’re getting the right dose.

Get organized

Taking
medicines properly means taking the right dose of the right medicine at the
right time.

  1. Make a list of all your medicines. Make a master list of all your medicines (What is a PDF document?) and keep it up to date. At
    every visit with your doctor, review this list.
  2. Plan a daily schedule of medicines. Make a daily planner that has spaces for hourly entries (What is a PDF document?). Post this schedule near
    your medicine cabinet. Take it along when you travel.
  3. Use a pillbox that holds a week’s worth of pills. This may be
    most helpful if you are taking pills every other
    day.
  4. Post reminders. Get sticky notes and
    write reminders to take your medicines. Post
    them near clocks or on the bathroom mirror to keep you on
    schedule.
  5. Store medicines properly. Keeping
    medicines in a place that is too hot or too cold
    may keep them from working right. Ask your doctor or
    pharmacist how to store your medicines. Always keep them
    out of the reach of children.

Watch for side effects

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about what side effects to expect.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor right away if
    you have problems from your medicines.
  • Always check with your doctor before you take any other medicines, whether they are prescription or nonprescription. This includes any herbal or
    “natural” supplements.
  • Let your doctor know if you have any changes in your health that might affect your heart
    failure, such as weight gain or another health
    problem.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC – Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Margaret Hetherington, PHM, BsC – Pharmacy

Current as ofOctober 5, 2017

Current as of:
October 5, 2017

Author:
Healthwise Staff

Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC – Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine & Margaret Hetherington, PHM, BsC – Pharmacy