Taking Medicines for Your Heart

Medicine can be a key tool in managing heart disease. You may need several types. Some medicines can help prevent the blood clots that cause heart attacks. Others can help control cholesterol, diabetes, fluid balance, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.

If you have questions about your medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Woman helping senior woman with medication organizer.

Know your medicines

Medicines are prescribed in just the right doses for your heart condition. They work only if you take them exactly as directed. Take heart medicines at the same time every day. This will keep the amount of medicine in your bloodstream at a steady level.

Set up a routine

Some medicines are best taken on an empty stomach. Others are taken with meals. A medicine organizer, or pill box, can help you take your pills at the right time each day. You can set your watch to beep when it’s time to take a pill, post a note on the fridge or bathroom mirror, or set up a cell phone application to alert you. 

Beware of drug interactions

Vitamins, herbal supplements, and some over-the-counter drugs can be dangerous to take with your heart medicines. Tell your doctor about all products you’re taking, even simple remedies for headaches, allergies, colds, or constipation.

Cope with side effects

Some medicines have side effects, such as nausea or headaches. If you have side effects, your doctor may reduce or change your medicine. Never stop taking a medicine or lower your dose on your own. This may cause sudden heart problems.

Safety tips

  • Fill all your prescriptions at the same drugstore. This keeps your records in one place.

  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a “fact sheet” or other patient information when you start any new medicine.

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you have allergies to any medicines.

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Order refills a few weeks before you run out.

  • Take a supply of pills with you when you travel.

  • Store medicines in a cool, dry, dark place.

  • Never share medicines with someone else.

  • Give a copy of your medicine list to your spouse or a close friend.

  • Always keep your medicine list up-to-date and keep a copy with you at all times.