Medication Management Tips
How many different medicines do you take? Most people with heart failure or other
cardiovascular illnesses take several. It’s no wonder you may become puzzled over
which medicines to take and when, how much to take, or what symptoms the drugs treat.
To prevent missed or double doses, side effects, and drug interactions, keep your
medicines organized. Try following these tips to avoid problems:
Write it down
Keep an up-to-date list of every medicine you take. Carry a copy of it with you at
all times in your wallet or purse. You can make your own, get a form from your healthcare
provider or pharmacist, download one from the Internet ("My Medication List"), or
keep a list on a free website that you can access from any computer anytime. Make
a note of the basics about each of your medicines.
Here’s what to record:
Medicine name (generic and brand name)
What you use it for (such as "heart failure" or "cholesterol")
When to take it (morning, bedtime, or at dinner)
How much to take (number of tablets or milligrams)
How to take it (by mouth, injection, inhaled, and with or without food)
Which side effects to report to your health care provider
How long to take it
Make sure you note whether to avoid mixing the medicine with any others or with any
foods or drinks.
Share the information
Tell your healthcare providers which medicines you take. This includes all prescriptions
and any over-the-counter drugs, nutritional supplements, herbs, and other remedies.
Keep an up-to-date list of everything you take. Bring it whenever you see your healthcare
provider. If you do not have a list handy, bring all your pill bottles to your appointment
in a large bag. (Your healthcare provider will not be bothered by this; she or he
would much rather go through the bottles than not know exactly what you are taking.)
Ask whether any of the items can cause problems when combined. If your healthcare
provider makes changes in your medicines, update your list immediately whether you
are at the provider's office or in the hospital.
Use a weekly pillbox
These boxes have 7 compartments, 1 for each day of the week. Some have additional
slots for different times of day, such as morning, midday, and bedtime. If you fill
your pillbox at the beginning of the week, then all week long it’s easy to tell whether
you’ve taken a dose instead of trying to remember. You also can plan to take your
medicine with another routine activity, such as brushing your teeth or having breakfast,
so you get used to taking it regularly.
Watch for side effects
Ask your healthcare provider what side effects may occur with each of your medicines
and learn what you can do to avoid them. Learn which side effects you should report
to your healthcare provider so he or she may be able to adjust your dose or schedule,
or substitute another drug if side effects bother you.