The use of medications has led to dramatic advances in the treatment and prevention of many cardiovascular diseases. It’s thanks to many of these medications—combined with heart-healthy lifestyle changes—that many people are living longer and feeling better.
But medications only work if you take them as directed. If you skip doses, elect not to take a prescribed medicine or take too much, it can be dangerous.
In fact, medication non-adherence—not taking medication as prescribed—is a leading reason for hospitalizations, more frequent doctor visits and medical costs. It can also interrupt timely care.
Think about it this way: managing your medications is just as important to protect your heart health as getting enough exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet.
There are many types and combinations of medications available to treat cardiovascular disease. Medications are used to:
If you already have heart disease, you may need multiple medications. That’s because each is used to manage different symptoms or reduce the risk of additional health problems or death.
For instance, antiplatelet or aspirin therapy may prevent a stent from closing or more blood clots from forming. You may also be taking medications for other health conditions; for example, diabetes or depression.
In many cases, treatment for heart disease includes a balance of healthy lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and sufficient sleep), medications and, for some patients, devices and/or other surgical procedures.
To get the most from your medications:
Continue to take your medication—even if you feel well or don’t have signs of the disease.
Medication-related problems can happen when and if you:
Here are some things you can do, especially if you take multiple medications, to help take your medications the right way.
Talk openly with your health care team about your medications—if you are having trouble taking them, if cost is an issue and anything else that might be getting in the way.
Here are some questions you might want to ask: