Tips for taking your Medicines
- Develop a routine for taking your heart medications. Take them exactly as your doctor prescribes or directs.
- You may want to use a pillbox marked with the days of the week.
- Don’t stop taking your medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Even if you start to feel better, it’s important to continue.
- Some of your heart medicines may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if dizziness persists.
- Don’t decrease your medication to save money. You must take the full amount for them to be effective.
- Tell your doctor if you’re taking other medicines, including herbs or vitamins. Some medicines can be badly affected by others.
- It’s normal to have to take more than one type of medicine. Carry a list of what you’re taking with you.
- Regularly fill prescriptions. Don’t wait until you’re completely out of medication before filling prescriptions.
The medicines you take depend on your heart condition and symptoms. For a heart attack or angina, it’s normal to take different kinds of medicine.
Below is a list of medicines commonly used to:
- stop blood clots
- manage high blood pressure
- manage high cholesterol
- manage and stop angina.
Anti-clotting (blood-thinning) medicines
You may have to take a small dose of aspirin every day. It can stop blood clots from forming in a narrow artery and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Antiplatelet medicines include clopidogrel, prasugrel, and ticagrelor. They can be used with, or instead of, aspirin. They help to stop blood clots forming in your blood vessels.
You usually need antiplatelet medicines if you’ve had coronary angioplasty and stent implantation, or have had recurring heart attacks or angina.
If you take an antiplatelet medicine, unless you are suffering severe bleeding you must not stop taking it unless your cardiologist or doctor tells you to. This is even more important if you have had a stent implanted.
Warfarin helps to prevent blood clots from forming and treats existing clots. If you are taking warfarin you need to have regular blood tests to check you’re taking the right dose and that it’s working properly.
Other medicines, including some foods, alcohol, herbs, and vitamins, can change how warfarin works. Speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about what foods can interact with warfarin.
Some other anticoagulant medicines, called NOACs (novel anticoagulant therapies) include dabigatran, apixaban, and rivaroxaban.
Blood Pressure Medicines
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
ACE inhibitors widen your blood vessels and reduce strain on your heart. They are used to lower blood pressure, make your heart work better and improve your chance of surviving after a heart attack.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB)
ARBs are sometimes used instead of ACE inhibitors if you get side effects, such as a persistent cough, from taking ACE inhibitors.
Beta-blockers can make your heart beat more slowly, and lower your blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack. You may sometimes be given a beta-blocker for arrhythmias or angina.
- Statins reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by helping to lower your cholesterol.
- They also sometimes lower your triglycerides.
- Statins help to stabilize plaque in arteries.
You will usually be given a statin when you are in the hospital. You will need to keep taking it when you go home.
Nitrate medicines increase blood flow to your heart by widening blood vessels. They prevent or treat angina.
There are two types of nitrate medicines.
- Short-acting nitrate medicines relieve angina symptoms within a few minutes. The most common short-acting nitrate medicine is glyceryl trinitrate.
- Long-acting nitrate medicines prevent angina symptoms. These are usually tablets that you swallow whole.
Nitrate medicines may also come as patches, and you gradually absorb the medicine through your skin.
Men should not take erectile dysfunction drugs with nitrate medicines.