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Your heart medicines
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Your heart medicines

Information about commonly prescribed heart medicines.

Key takeaways

  • People may need to take heart medicines to manage their blood pressure and cholesterol if they have a moderate or high risk of a heart attack or stroke following a Heart Health Check.
  • Most people who have had a heart attack, angina (chest pain) or been diagnosed with a heart condition will need to take medicines.
  • Common heart medicines include medicines to manage blood pressure and cholesterol, to prevent blood clots forming and to prevent and treat angina.
  • The medicines you take will depend on your heart condition. Medicines are prescribed to suit your individual needs. Your doctor or pharmacist is the best source of information about your medicines and what they are for.
3 min read

Most people who have had a heart attack or have been diagnosed with a heart condition will need to take heart medicines. You might also be prescribed medicines if you have a moderate or high risk of a heart attack or stroke, following a Heart Health Check with your doctor.  

Here we discuss common types of heart medicines, including what they do and why they are important.

Types of heart medicines  

The types of medicines you take will depend on your heart condition. For some people, like people who have had a heart attack or been diagnosed with heart failure, it is normal to take more than one type of medicine.  

Click on the headings below for more information about the different types of heart medicines.

Depending on your heart condition and your general health, your doctor might prescribe other medicines as well.  

Medicines available in Australia come with a consumer medicines information leaflet. The leaflet includes important information about your medicines. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the leaflet did not come with your medicine. You can also find the consumer medicines information by searching on the NPS MedicineWise Medicine Finder.  

Understanding your heart medicines

It’s important to know which heart medicines you are taking and what they are for. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you this information. Remember, all medicines have possible side effects. Make sure you understand the possible side effects of your heart medicines, and what you should do if you get a side effect.  

Keep a list of the medicines you take, either on a piece of paper in your wallet or handbag or on your phone. There are also user-friendly apps you can download on your phone. We recommend the NPS MedicineWise app

For each medicine, it’s helpful to make a note of:

  • The name of the active ingredient and the brand name.
  • The strength and dose.
  • When and how often to take the medicine.
  • How to take the medicine (for example, with food).  
  • What the medicine is for (for example, for blood pressure or heart rhythm).
  • The type of medicine (prescription or over-the-counter).
  • What to do if you miss a dose.
Over-the-counter medicines are medicines you can buy from a pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop without a prescription. Always let your doctor or pharmacist know what over-the-counter medicines you are taking. Many over-the-counter medicines (including pain medicines, cold and flu medicines, supplements and vitamins) can interact with your heart medicines.  

Take your medicines list to all your health appointments. Find out more, here.

Managing your heart medicines

There are a range of reasons why some people might find it difficult to manage their medicines.

Some people might have difficulty swallowing tablets. Or they might find it hard to open the medicine packaging. If you are having trouble, it’s best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible. They can help you find a solution.  

Remember:

  • Don’t stop taking your medicine or change the dose, even if you feel well.
  • Don’t crush or break tablets to make them easier to swallow (unless your doctor or pharmacist has told you to do this).
  • Don’t open capsules and mix the medicine inside with water. This can affect how well the medicine works. 
  • If you find it hard to read the information on the medicine packaging, you can ask your pharmacist to use a larger print label. 

It is quite common for people to forget to take their medicine from time to time, especially if it’s a new medicine. It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist what to do if you forget to take your medicine as advised or if you accidently take more than your usual dose.

Below are some top tips for remembering when to take your medicine.  

  • Make it part of your daily routine. You can remind yourself to take your medicine by linking it with things you do every day. For example, you can take your morning medicines before getting in the shower or with your breakfast. Or you can take your evening medicines just before you brush your teeth.
  • Set a daily alarm or reminder. You can set up your phone, alarm clock or computer to remind you when to take your medicine at certain times of the day. The NPS MedicineWise app allows you to set reminders for when to take your medicine.
  • Use a chart or calendar. Keep the calendar in a part of the house you use often. Mark off when you have taken your medicines for that day.
  • Ask your doctor if there are other ways to help you remember to take your medicines. For example, some medicines can be combined into one tablet. Or your doctor might be able to reduce the number of doses you need to take in a day. There are ways your medicines can be packaged to remind you when to take them, such as in a blister pack or dose sachets.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about getting a Home Medicines Review. This is when your pharmacist checks the medicines you are taking. They can make sure you are receiving the right medicines and that you are taking them correctly.

For more information about your heart medicines 

Your doctor or pharmacist can answer any questions you have about your heart medicines.

Other reliable sources of information include:

  • Consumer medicines information leaflet, which comes with most medicines. The leaflet explains what the medicine is for, how to take it, and if there are any side effects. If you didn’t receive this, ask your doctor or pharmacist, or visit the NPS MedicineWise website.
  • Call the NPS MedicineWise Medicines Line 1300 633 424.
  • Speak to one of our health professionals on our Helpline 13 11 12.

Last reviewed: 09/09/2021

 

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