There are many medications your cardiologist may consider in caring for your condition. The list below and on the following pages contains the most common categories of cardiac medications routinely used to care for heart patients. Visit with your doctor, cardiologist or pharmacist if you have questions related to your medications.
What You Should Know
Your doctor has prescribed medication to help treat your condition. These medications will help you only if you take them correctly. Here's how:
Filling Your Prescription
Have your prescription filled at the pharmacy you normally use. This way, the pharmacist can keep a complete record of your medications. Tell him if you're allergic to any medications.
If you need to refill your prescription, don't wait until the last minute. Refill it before you run out of medicine.
Taking Your Medication
Take your medication in a well-lit room. Double-check the label to make sure you're taking the right medication. If you don't understand the directions, call your pharmacist or doctor.
If you forget to take your medication, call your doctor or pharmacist for directions. Do not take two or more doses together.
Storing Your Medications
Keep your medication in its original container.
Store your medication in a cool, dry place or as directed by your pharmacist. Don't keep it in the bathroom medicine chest or in the kitchen near the stove. Heat and humidity may cause it to lose its effectiveness.
If you have children, make sure your medication containers have childproof caps. Always keep the containers out of reach of children. Do not reuse medication bottles for storing other medications.
Keep the following information about each of your medications on index cards or on a chart: the drug's name, its purpose, its appearance, how to take it, when to take it, how much to take and special precautions or side effects. Remember, most medications cause some side effects.
If you have any questions about symptoms you are experiencing while taking your medication, call your doctor right away.
Make sure to remind your doctor and pharmacist about any other medications you take regularly (this includes over-the-counter or prescription medications, herbal medications and birth control pills).
Never take medication that doesn't look right or has passed the expiration date. The medication may not work or may harm you.
Don't take over-the-counter medications while you're on prescription medication without first checking with your pharmacist. Another medication can change the way your prescription works.
Alcoholic beverages and some foods can change the way some medication works. Read the medication label. It may tell you what to avoid. If you are uncertain, ask your pharmacist.
Your medication has been prescribed just for you. Don't share it with family or friends. They could be hurt by it.
If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before taking any medication or home remedy. Some medications may be harmful to the baby.
Blood Thinning Medications - What is Coumadin?
Blood thinning medications (also called "anticoagulants") are used to decrease the ability of the blood to form clots. This is necessary when an artificial valve is placed due to the danger of clots forming on the valve itself. It can also decrease the risk of another heart attack, stroke and possibly death and lowers the risk of clots moving into other parts of the body. Your doctor may have additional reasons for prescribing it not listed here.
Taking Your Coumadin
Take your medication at the same time every day. If you forget to take your Coumadin, take it as soon as you remember on the same day and call your doctor. DO NOT take a double dose. This can increase the risk of bleeding.
Take a regular blood test (Prothrombin Time or INR) to see how your blood is clotting.
Discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacist. Even over-the-counter medications (such as aspirin and simple cold medications) can have serious, adverse interactions with Coumadin.
DO NOT take two doses of Coumadin at the same time! This can produce a serious, even deadly, result. Call your doctor if you miss a dose.
DO NOT take two blood thinners at the same time. Coumadin and Warfarin look different but do the same thing. Make sure they are never taken together.
DO NOT take the following medications or any herbal products without checking with your doctor:
ibuprofen (Nuprin, Motrin, Advil)
aspirin containing ointments and skin cream
vitamin K supplements
alternative medicine, herbal medicine
high doses of vitamin C or vitamin E
You will be asked to have regular blood tests to see if your Coumadin is working effectively. Your dosages will be regulated according to the blood test results.
Vitamin K helps your body make clots. Foods with large amounts of vitamin K can affect the way your medication works. You do not need to avoid foods with large amounts of vitamin K, just keep your diet consistent.
Alcohol can also effect your medication and should be avoided.
Try to keep your activities similar from day to day. Visit with your doctor if you plan to travel and before participating in any sports that may cause injury that could lead to excessive bleeding or bruising.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Bleeding that does not stop, excessive bleeding during menses, nose bleeds, bleeding gums or if you vomit blood
- Dark brown urine or red/black color in your stool
- Unusual bruising
- Pregnancy (do not take blood thinners if you suspect you are pregnant)
- An illness that keeps you from taking your medication or drastically changes your eating habits
- Fever or any developing gastrointestinal illness (vomiting or diarrhea)
- Any infection, swelling, pain or discomfort
- Any unusual symptoms