5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist About Your Heart Medications
If you have heart failure, your doctor probably prescribed lifestyle changes, like eating healthier, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol. You may have also been prescribed prescription medication.
It is very important that you be involved in your care plan, including staying up-to-date with your medications. Here are some essential questions you should ask your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking.
Why am I taking these medications?
Doctors prescribe medications for a variety of reasons. Some help lower your blood pressure or cholesterol. Others help reduce your risk of another cardiac event. A type of medicine called diuretics helps with excess fluid and swelling.
All of the medications are important to help improve your symptoms, keep you out of the hospital and help you have a higher quality of life.
Ask your doctor what each medication does and if there are side effects. Keep an updated list of all of the medications you take and why you are taking them. Bring this list to every doctor visit, including other specialists.
How often do I take these medications?
Some people only have to take their medications once a day. This makes it simple. But other people have to take multiple prescriptions throughout the day. Some medication, like diuretics, are taken based on symptoms. These situations make taking medicine more complicated.
Make sure you write down exactly when you need to take which medication, so you have a list to refer to if you get confused.
Get yourself organized by using a pillbox that you fill yourself at the beginning of each week. Some pharmacies offer individualized pre-filled pill packs that come labeled with what pills to take when.
If you get overwhelmed, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a way to simplify your medications.
What can I expect while taking these medications?
Almost all medications have side effects. If you are taking medications for heart failure, you should review the side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.
With heart failure, you may need to take more than one medication to manage your condition. However, taking several medications at once can increase the chance of side effects and drug interactions.
In addition to knowing the side effects, you should ask what to do if you experience any. Know when to alert your doctor.
What do I do if I miss a dose or run out of medication?
Skipping doses is dangerous. Ask your health care provider what to do if you forget to take a dose.
Make sure you always have enough medicine on hand. Every time you pick up your medicines, check the number of refills you have left. It is on the bottle. Call your doctor right away if the bottle says "No refills" or "Refills: 0." Don't wait until the last minute to refill. Place a refill order when you have about a week's worth of medication left, so you don't run out.
My medications are expensive. What options do I have?
Fortunately, many heart failure medications come in relatively inexpensive generic forms, which have a very low co-pay.
Newer medications tend to be only available as a brand medication, which means they are more expensive.
If you don't have prescription insurance, make sure to use a discount card at the pharmacy and be aware that prices may vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, so you may need to shop around for the best price.
If you cannot afford your medications, talk to your doctor about other options.
Heart failure medications are a key part of keeping you feeling well and out of the hospital. Understanding the medications you are on is an important step on your road to best health. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist.