Many people have experienced medication interactions and reactions to medications.

There are many important precautions that should be taken when you begin or add-a new prescription medication, a new over the counter pill, or a new herbal supplement-to your medication routine. Around 45% of Americans use prescription medication. (CDC 2016) I have definitely seen from my experience in health care, and from data of many studies, that there is a significant lack of correct follow through with patient medication usage. Not taking your prescribed or over the counter medication faithfully or correctly can be dangerous, especially if you have cardiac disease.

Many people with cardiac issues take prescription medications.

Nearly fifty percent of adult Americans have some type of cardiac disease, and it is typical to treat a cardiac diagnosis with medication. The most common area for medication issues is with cardiac medication! (2017)

There are many reasons why people do not follow their physicians instructions completely, but from my years in health care working with seniors, comprehension of instructions regarding the details around taking the medication, appears to be a common dynamic. I have certainly been overwhelmed with health information for myself, and many of my patients have also expressed lack of understanding as an issue. Patients come home with new instructions they were given after staying in the hospital, or after having been diagnosed with a new illness, and are frequently overwhelmed.

I have many times assisted patients, family, and friends who have had issues and interactions with: over the counter medications and beta blockers, NSAIDS and heart medications, cold medicine and blood pressure, and potassium levels with food and supplements (to name a few!).

Common tips for cardiac medication safety that should not be overlooked.

Organize and educate yourself on your medications, and connect with your physician if you have any questions!

Never stop a medication cold turkey without getting your physician’s approval (ie, cholesterol medication can be dangerous to stop abruptly). There are many cardiac medications that could be dangerous to quit without guidance. If you are out of town and realize you have forgotten your meds, you can call your pharmacy or physician. They will usually give you a small supply to tide you over- but it may cost extra.

Don’t start a new medication without checking with your physician or pharmacist, especially if you have a cardiac diagnosis. Even over the counter and herbal supplements can interact or interfere with your heart medication (certain herbals can counter beta blockers/effect your heart rate, etc.).

Read through all of your medication instructions and side effects. You may want to take notes, or ask a family member to help. Many issues can be avoided if we take the time to note the details.

Your pharmacist is a great resource if you have questions! Try to work with the same person as much as you can.

It is important to have an organized list of medication names, scheduled times of day for taking them, and parameters for taking them. Medication might need to be taken before food, after food, with or without certain food or drink. Medication should be taken at a regular time of day as much as possible. Keep an organized list with notations of special instructions, and always take that list with you to the doctor.

Many cold medications can contribute to elevating your blood pressure.(Web MD) Antacids and and salt substitutes may also interact with heart medication! Check with your physician to see which brand of cold medicine, etc. you are allowed to take.

Sometimes you can structure your diet to avoid adding a supplement (think bananas and potassium).

Certain foods such as grapefruit and spinach may interact with your medications. Even real licorice candy can interact with some heart medication. Do your research, and read your instructions carefully!

NSAIDS (anti inflammatories) can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or elevated blood pressure, especially if you have cardiac disease. Ask your physician what you should take if you have joint pain or swelling.

Be organized and prepared, and don’t add anything to your list without your physician’s approval!

Stay organized by using a medication organizer to help improve consistency with your medications (affiliate link).

Here is a FREEBIE!! A medication list handout that you can print and use to get organized- right click and save image to desktop to print out!

What other information or tips would you give for cardiac medication safety? Subscribe to my blog for weekly tips, information and insight into senior care and senior health.

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