Tips for Managing your Meds

Seven simple ways to improve your health and enhance your quality of life

Most people with cardiovascular disease are taking doctor-prescribed medications. Those drugs cannot work as expected if they are not taken as directed. When not taken as prescribed they can also cause side effects. Without knowing it, you could counteract one medicine by taking it with another. Certain foods can also affect medication.

Medication adherence (taking medicines as prescribed) is important to effectively manage a condition. Here are some tips for doing that.

Keeping Track

Keeping track of your prescribed medications can be challenging, especially if you’re taking several. Writing things down will make managing your medications a lot easier. Use this printable medicine tracker to stay organized. Go over it with your doctor regularly to make sure that your medications complement, and don’t counteract, each other.

How to Remember

  • Take it at the same time every day.
  • Take it along with other daily events, like brushing your teeth.
  • Use special pill boxes, like the ones divided into sections for each day of the week (which can be found at a drugstore).
  • Ask people close to you to remind you.
  • Keep a "medicine calendar" near your medicine and make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Put a reminder note on your medicine cabinet or refrigerator.
  • List your pills on a small dry-erase board and mark the board when you take your medication.
  • Purchase timer caps for pill bottles to remind you when to take medication.
  • If you have a smartphone, use a reminder app. Several major pharmacies now have apps that remind you when to take your medicine and let you mark it as taken.

Tips for Medication Use

  • Understand what the medication is for, as well as how and when you should take it.
  • Make an instruction sheet for yourself by taping a sample of each pill on a sheet of paper and writing down all the information about it. But make sure to keep this sheet out of reach of children and pets.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it should be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
  • Simplify your routine by putting colored labels on your medicine bottles: blue for morning, red for afternoon and yellow for bedtime.
  • If your medication routine is too complicated, ask your physician or pharmacist to help you simplify it. For example, substituting a pill that you can take once a day rather than several times.
  • If your medications are too expensive, talk with your physician or pharmacist and find out about financial assistance.
  • If you’re away from home a lot, make sure you carry enough with you to take the prescribed doses while you’re out. Some pharmacists will prepare blister packs for daily or weekly meds. Ask your pharmacist.
  • If you travel by air a lot, always carry your medicines on the airplane with you. Never pack them in your luggage, which could be delayed or even worse, get lost.
  • Do not stop any medications without talking to your physician or healthcare provider.

Heart360, a one-stop, easy-to-use set of online tracking tools, includes a tool for tracking medications as well as tools for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, weight and physical activity. With it you can track all of your medications, their dosages, frequencies and notes about side effects. Heart360 tracks your health goal progress each time you enter your levels. It allows you to print comprehensive reports to share with your healthcare team.

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