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Taking Your Medications

You'll likely need to take several types of medications after a heart attack. You may wonder: Do I really need to take so much medication? The answer is yes. Medications can be a vital part of healing. They can also help prevent another heart attack in the future. Be sure to take all medications as directed.

Getting started

Pharmacist is holding a bottle of pills and talking to a woman standing at the counter.

  • Keep a list of all your medications. Know what they are, what they do, and how to take them. Keep that list with you at all times.

  • Know what medication side effects to expect. If a side effect bothers you, doesn't go away, or gets worse, call your health care provider.

  • Ask your provider or pharmacist about possible interactions between medications. Check before taking any over-the-counter medicine, herbs, or supplements.

  • Try to get all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. This will help reduce the risk of interactions between medications.

  • Talk to your provider if you have any concerns about the cost of medications.

Types of medications

  • Aspirin and other anticoagulants help prevent blood clots.

  • ACE inhibitors help control blood pressure and reduce heart strain and weakening of the heart muscle.

  • Statins to reduce cholesterol levels.

  • Beta blockers help slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.

  • Nitroglycerin helps reduce the heart's workload and improves blood flow through the heart.

Hints for taking medications

  • Use a pillbox to store all the pills you need for the week.

  • To be sure you don't skip or repeat a dose, write down when you take your medication.

  • Don't stop taking your medications. This can be dangerous to your heart.

  • Be sure to refill a prescription before it runs out.

Medications for related conditions

  • Blood pressure medications: High blood pressure is one of the most serious risks for heart attack. Medication is likely needed to help manage this problem. It might take time to find the best medication for you. For best results, follow these tips:

    • Don't stop taking high blood pressure medication suddenly. This can make your blood pressure shoot up quickly.

    • Keep in mind that medication works best when you're also eating heart-healthy foods, limiting sodium (salt), and getting regular exercise.

  • Diabetes or cholesterol medications: If health eating and activity aren't enough to manage these conditions, your health care provider may prescribe medications to treat them. Be sure to take them as directed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 10/17/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.