There are many effective medicines to treat heart disease. 

Medicines can reduce your risk of heart attack, angina, stroke, or heart failure. They can help manage symptoms by controlling high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, and improve your quality of life. 

Tips for taking your medicines

  • Develop a routine for taking your heart medications. Take them exactly as your doctor prescribes or directs.
  • You may want to use a pillbox marked with the days of the week. Your pharmacist or doctor can help with this. 
  • Don’t stop taking your medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Most medicines have to be taken for the long term to keep on managing your heart problems. Even if you start to feel better, it’s important to continue.
  • Some of your heart medicines may cause side effects. If you experience side effects like dizziness when standing or getting out of bed, sit or lie down for a few minutes, then get up more slowly. Tell your doctor if dizziness persists. If you’re worried about side effects or want more information, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Don’t decrease your medication to save money. You must take the full amount for them to be effective. Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce medication costs.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking (or plan to take) other medicines, including herbs or vitamins. Some medicines can be badly affected by others.
  • It’s normal to have to take more than one type of medicine. Carry a list of what you’re taking with you.
  • Regularly fill prescriptions. Don’t wait until you’re completely out of medication before filling prescriptions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have.  

Common medicines

Your doctor might prescribe medicines to:

  • thin your blood and stop clots (anti-platelet agents)
  • manage blood pressure (anti-hypertensives, blood pressure lowering agents)
  • manage blood cholesterol (cholesterol-lowering agents, e.g. statins ezetimibe)
  • manage angina (anti-angina agents, e.g. glyceryl trinitrate-GTN)
  • slow your heart rate or keep a normal heart rhythm (anti-arrhythmic agents)
  • reduce excess fluid (diuretic agents).

To find out about a specific medicine search for it on the National Prescribing Service Medicinewise website.

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