Like many people with heart disease, you probably take more than one medication. Heart
medicines may help you be more active, and live longer and more comfortably. Using
them correctly is essential to your health.
Whether you take prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medicine or both, there
are important guidelines to follow to get the most from your medicines—and to avoid
unpleasant or dangerous side effects:
Always follow the label directions. Follow your healthcare provider's directions or the label of a store-bought product.
Taking a smaller dose to save money or a bigger dose for faster results is risky to
your health and may lead to unwanted side effects. Take only the recommended amount
and number of doses at the time of day stated on the label. If you think your dosage
needs adjusting, call your healthcare provider before making any changes.
Do not drink alcohol when taking medicines, unless your healthcare provider says it
is OK. Some medicines may magnify the alcohol’s effect or make you sick when mixed with
Be careful when mixing medicines. Make sure your healthcare provider or pharmacist knows and approves of all the medicines
you take (including OTC medication and herbal remedies). Certain medicines may interact
with one another, making you sick or making the medicines less effective. Some medications
need to be taken separately from others. Talk to your healthcare provider to make
sure you understand how these medicines should be taken.
When in doubt, ask. If the label on your prescription bottle says “take as directed,” but you can’t remember
your healthcare provider’s instructions, call and ask. Some medicines must be taken
every day, no matter how you feel, and others should only be taken when certain symptoms
arise. Guessing wrong could harm your health, or delay the desired results. Talk to
your healthcare provider to make sure you understand how these medicines should be
Know what to do if you miss a dose. Missing a dose can happen to anyone now and again. With some medicines, you should
take the dose as soon as you remember. Others should not be taken again until the
following day or at the next scheduled dose. If you take several medications, keep
a written record of what to do for a missed dose.
Know what to expect. Before you start taking any new medicine, make sure you understand what it is for
and how it will benefit you. Ask your healthcare provider how you will know if the
medicine is working, how long it will take to start working, and how you will feel
once you take it. Always ask if the medicine is necessary, or if you could get the
same results with a change in your diet or exercise habits.
Read and save any product information that comes with your medicine. Such information includes important warnings every consumer should know.
Purchase all your prescription medications at one pharmacy. Medicine interactions are more likely to be caught if one pharmacist fills all your
prescriptions. Ask your pharmacist to print medication labels in large print if you
have trouble reading standard type.