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Manage Your Medication

What does it mean to properly manage your medication?

When lifestyle changes (e.g. diet, exercise) are not enough to reduce heart disease risk factors, you may be prescribed medications. However, since conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol cannot be felt, many people stop managing their medication and decide not to fill their prescription or stop taking their medication after a while.

Why is managing your medication so important for your heart?

If medications have been prescribed, the importance of taking them as prescribed to reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood glucose cannot be stressed enough:

  • A decrease of 10/5 mmHg in blood pressure, when it’s above target, can reduce the risk of developing heart failure by 50%, stroke by 38%, and heart attack by 15%.12
  • For every 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL-C (bad cholesterol), there is a 20-25% reduction in heart attacks and death due to heart disease.13

What if you have side effects from your medication?

One reason why people may stop taking their heart medication may be side effects. If you are experiencing side effects from your medication, it is important to discuss this with your pharmacist so a solution can be found. This may mean adjusting the dose, or switching to another medication.

What if you keep forgetting to take your medication on time?

Another reason for not taking heart medication may be not remembering to take them. Here are some tips to help:

  • Use a calendar or whiteboard to keep track of when you take your medication. Make a mark when you take them.
  • Set the timer on your alarm clock or phone and take your medication when it goes off.
  • Take your medication at the same time as another regular activity, such as going to bed or eating a meal.
  • If you are taking multiple medications:
    Use a day-of-the-week pill box. Keep it where you can easily spot it.
  • Ask your Pharmacist about compliance (blister) packs.

12. Hypertension Canada. What is hypertension. http://www.hypertension.ca/what-is-hypertension-dp1, accessed 23 November 2012.

13. Genest J, et al. 2009 Canadian Cardiovascular Society/Canadian guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult – 2009 recommendations. Can J Cardiol Vol 25 No 10 October 2009.