Medicine Makes the Difference

Take your medication as directed to stay well 

Making Sense of Medications

When you live with heart disease or diabetes, one of the best things you can do for yourself is take your medications. Medicine has proven to be one of the most effective ways to manage heart disease.

Even when you feel okay, it’s important to take your medications exactly as prescribed. They can reduce your chances of having a heart attack, lower your blood pressure, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keep your cholesterol at healthy levels.

Make sure your doctor knows about your health conditions and all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. If you get a new prescription, ask about special instructions and possible side effects. If you do feel side effects, such as dizziness or cold feet, tell your doctor right away. But don’t stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to stop. Here are some common medications that treat high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

Statins help reduce your levels of “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise your levels of “good” cholesterol. For those with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that all adults with diabetes who are over age 40 take statins. This is because it can help offset some of the major complications of diabetes, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and being overweight or obese. For those with a heart condition, statins can help reduce the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other heart-related problem. 

Beta blockers are often prescribed for people who’ve had a heart attack. They help prevent another heart attack by slowing down the heartbeat, and they also reduce blood pressure and treat chest pain (angina). If you have asthma, kidney disease, or liver disease, your doctor might not suggest beta blockers. Atenolol, metoprolol, and carvedilol are examples of common beta blockers.

Anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, do not actually thin the blood. They prevent blood clots from forming in the blood vessels. Aspirin, warfarin, and clopidogrel are examples of the blood thinners that your doctor may prescribe.

Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering the heart and blood vessels. They lower blood pressure, and some lower the heart rate. Amlodipine and verapamil are examples.

Watch Out: Grapefruit
Grapefruit can sometimes cause increases side effects of some statins.