Take heart medicines as directed

appleIf you have heart disease, you may need to take several different medicines to protect your heart and your health. Each medicine must be taken the right way—or exactly as prescribed. Otherwise it might not work. It could even cause serious side effects.

Still, taking a variety of medicines can be challenging, and the more medicines you take, the greater the risk of mistakes. That’s why it is so important to follow these four guidelines:

1. Understand your medicine. Be sure you know what each medicine is for, when to take it and how to take it (for instance, on an empty stomach or with food). If you are uncertain about any detail, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

2. Take your medicines at the same time each day. You might choose to schedule taking your medicine with a daily event, such as brushing your teeth.

3. Get organized. Consider using a special pillbox to help you keep track of your medicine—for example, one that is marked with the days of the week. Another option is to keep a medicine calendar, and note every time you take a dose. You can also ask your pharmacist to help you devise a coding system that will help you remember which pill to take when.

4. Stay in touch with your doctor. Don’t stop taking any medicine without your doctor’s OK, even if you feel fine or your symptoms go away. Conversely, if you don’t think your medicine is making a difference, alert your doctor and ask why.

Source: American Heart Association

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