Your treatment questions answered
Question: ‘How often does my medication regime need to be reviewed?’
Answer: After a heart attack or unstable angina diagnosis, it is important that you understand at discharge who will review your medicines, as this may be with your GP, in cardiac rehabilitation, at a cardiology clinic review, or through other services or a combination of these. This is important as there is usually an aim to increase some medications – usually beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors – over several months. These medicines are usually started at a low dose and built up gradually, as some people experience side effects. It might take several reviews over a few months to get your medication at optimal doses. Your GP practice will usually review your medicines yearly.
Question: ‘Do I still need to take medication, now that I’m feeling better?’ 1
Answer: Most of the medication you’re given after a heart attack or unstable angina diagnosis is not to treat the symptoms, so you won’t feel an immediate benefit from taking your medicines (with the exception of sprays or tablets to ease angina pain). What the medication is doing is helping your heart recover as much as possible, and preventing a further cardiac event (or a first heart attack, if you’re taking medication because you have angina). Your medicine is reducing your risk or a further heart attacks or other problems, so it’s very important you continue to take them.
Question: ‘I’ve lost quite a bit of weight recently. Do I need to lower the dosage of my medication?’
Answer: Although weight loss is highly beneficial for your health, it doesn’t mean your medicine dosages will be changed. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your medication, speak to your GP. They will monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other aspects of your health before deciding to adjust your medication in any way.
Question: ‘What should I do if I forget to take my medication?’ 1
Answer: It will depend on the medication, for most the recommendation is to take your usual dose at the next time you usually take your medicine. Everyone misses occasional tablets, but, your medication will work best if you take it consistently. Try keeping it in a convenient place so you won’t forget to take it. If another member of your family also takes medicine for any reason, you could try getting into a routine of taking your pills together at the same time – it can help you both remember.
Question: I’m going on holiday. Am I allowed to take enough medication with me for two weeks?’
Answer: Yes. It’s important to take enough medication with you, so if you’re about to run out, ask your doctor for a repeat prescription. The same applies to public holidays such as over Christmas, when your GP surgery may be shut for a long period. Always try to plan ahead and ensure you have enough medication. If you’re going abroad, it’s also a good idea to take a list of the medicines you’re on, in case of any emergencies.
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1https://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/your-heart/heart-treatments/medications, Accessed September 2018