Medications

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Don’t forget, it is important that you check with your doctor before making any changes to the medications you take. Your pharmacist can also help you with information about your medications and how to take them.

The number one reason why people have a secondary event is that they stop taking their medications.

Can I stop taking my medications if I eat healthy, exercise and don’t smoke 

A healthy lifestyle is very important, but you will still need your medications 

  • Your medications are prescribed by your doctor to help you recover from any surgery 
  • They also provide some protection from heart problems in the future 
  • Your doctor might change the medications you take as your condition improves or worsens so make sure you keep your appointments with them 

My family member/friend has different medications to me for the same condition 

Every heart patient is different even if they are from the same family and have had the same surgery 

  • Your medications are prescribed by your doctor for you based on your special needs 
  • Your doctor will do regular check-ups and blood tests to see if changes to your medications are needed 
  • It is dangerous to take someone else’s medications or to give your medications to someone else

I can’t afford my medications 

Talk to your pharmacist if you can’t afford your medications 

  • Some patients might qualify for Medicare or Concession cards 
  • Some military veterans might also be entitled to medications financial support

I keep forgetting to take my medications

Many heart patients have trouble with this when they first come home from hospital: 

  • Some patients have smartphones and set alarms for taking their medications. For example, set an alarm that says ‘take night-time meds’ to go off at 7pm every night 
  • Pharmacists have pill boxes that can contain medications for morning/midday/night of each day and week; these are a good visual reminder 
  • Pharmacists can pack your medications into blister packs called ‘Webster Packs’ when they dispense them. This makes it easier to remember them and the blisters are easier to open than the foil packaging and bottles most medications come in 
  • Ask your doctor what you should do if you forget to take your medications – don’t just miss them or double up without checking with your doctor, both are very dangerous 

Can I take less of my medications or stop taking them for a few days 

Your medications are essential to your health and safety so you must take them as prescribed by your doctor: 

  • CALL FOR MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY if you feel very ill, have chest pain, or a high fever, or difficulty breathing even when seated or lying down 
  • Taking a ‘medication holiday’ for a few days or weeks is very dangerous.
  • Taking less of your medications is also very dangerous. 

I’m worried about side effects 

Almost all medications have the risk of some side effects, but these are outweighed by their importance to your overall health: 

  • CALL FOR MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY If you feel very ill, have chest pain, or a high fever, or difficulty breathing even when seated or lying down 
  • Talk to your doctor about side effects you might experience. Ask what side effects are ok and what side effects require emergency medical treatment. Your pharmacist can also help with information. 
  • Some medications such as statins for cholesterol can cause muscle soreness. But muscle soreness can also be from your surgery or restarting activity such as exercise after a long break. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

I’ve heard there are foods I can’t eat with my heart medications 

There are some foods that cannot be eaten with some heart medications: 

  • These foods can cause your medications to stop working or give you side effects 
  • Some of these foods include grapefruit, pomegranate, liquorice, and bananas. 
  • Your doctor and pharmacist will tell you what foods to avoid. They might also change you to a different medication is certain foods are an important part of your diet. 
  • Alcohol is a problem with many heart medications

Can I keep taking my vitamins and other over the counter medications?

You must tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medications and supplements you take: 

  • Some vitamins and herbal supplements are dangerous for heart patients; they can make your condition worse or stop your medications working 
  • Common painkillers such as ibuprofen might need to be stopped because they affect your blood thinners 
  • Tell your doctor about all vitamins and supplements you take and talk to them before taking any new ones

What do I do about my medications when I travel in Australia or overseas? 

Always take your medications with you when you travel; don’t stop taking them: 

  • Always carry enough for everyday of your trip plus enough for an extra few days in case of delays; especially if you won’t be near a pharmacy 
  • Take your prescriptions with you just in case 
  • Make sure you don’t leave them in a hot car; use your hotel minibar for storage if you have one 
  • If travelling overseas check if your medications are legal to take into that country. Painkillers are often banned. 
  • Get a signed, dated, and stamped letter from your doctor listing your medications and dosages. 
  • If possible, take new unopened boxes of your medications with you when going overseas. The opened boxes should be ok to bring back into Australia if you have your doctor’s letter and prescriptions. 

I’m worried I’ll get addicted 

Most heart medications are not addictive: 

  • You will be given pain killers to take home from the hospital, usually enough for a few days 
  • It is important to take these as prescribed; if you are in too much pain you can’t rest and recover from your surgery 
  • If you use drugs or have had addiction problems, including alcohol, tell your doctor before leaving hospital with your pain medications so that they can provide information and support

I don’t think my medications are working 

Only your doctor can tell if your medications are working: 

  • They will regularly check your blood pressure and heart rate, and refer you for blood tests, to make sure your medications are working 
  • CALL FOR MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY if you feel very ill, have chest pain, or a high fever, or difficulty breathing even when seated or lying down

Can I use generic brand medications? 

Your pharmacist will offer you generic brands if they are available: 

  • Generic brands are tightly controlled in Australia and can be a cost-effective alternative for some medications 
  • Do not use generic brands bought on the internet or when overseas; these can be very dangerous

I’ve heard my medications are dangerous or I’ve been told this medication doesn’t work 

There is a lot of incorrect information on the internet and even in the newspapers and on TV: 

  • Do not rely on information about medications from friends and family, the internet, newspapers, television 
  • Talk to your own doctor or pharmacist about any concerns you have about your medications

How long do I need to take this medication for? 

Most heart patients take several medications for the rest of their lives: 

  • Some medications might be stopped by your doctor once you have recovered from your surgery 
  • Other medications are for life and are important to your health and safety 
  • After a while taking your medications becomes second nature; it’s just something you do every day

Provided by Al Johnson, Centre for Digital Business 

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Medications

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