Taking medication

Medication is an essential part of the heart patient’s life, but can be dangerous as well.

It's important to follow prescriptions. Consult a doctor if you have any queries and ask the doctor to explain the function of each medicine. The partner or caretaker should join the visit to the doctor to ensure that information isn’t missed or misinterpreted.

Tips on dealing with medication include:

  • Always inform a new doctor, dentist or pharmacist about your condition and present medication.
  • Other medication should only be added to your current treatment programme after consulting your doctor or cardiologist.
  • In most cases, medication is prescribed for life-long use. Do not interrupt or stop the use of medicine without consulting your doctor.
  • Medication should usually be taken with a glass of water after mealtime. Check the prescription before use.
  • Regular intake of medication is necessary. Don't skip medication. Use it at the same time every day.
  • Read the pamphlet accompanying the medication to check for possible side effects. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these.
  • Do not increase or decrease your dosage without consulting your doctor.
  • Ensure that medication is replenished regularly.
  • Don’t go on a holiday trip without stocking up on your medication. Pharmacies are not always at hand and it is difficult to get a prescription drug without the prescription.

If you are using aspirin or anticoagulant therapy, you should take note of the following:

  • Only paracetemol such as Panado should be taken for a headache.
  • Consult your doctor before using medication for arthritis, gout or flu.
  • Alcohol should be limited to a minimum.
  • Red alert: Consult your doctor if you see signs of nose bleeding, blood in the urine or blood in stools.

Always keep the number of your doctor and ambulance service close by.

"Heart attack: what now?" produced by Parke-Davis, courtesy of the Heart Foundation of South Africa.

- (Updated May 2008)

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